A few weeks ago, my news feed was flooded with headlines suck as, “Man Fights off Mountain Lion with Bare Hands” and, “Man Survives Mountain Lion Attack by killing it with His Bare Hands.”
The incredible story of how Travis Kaufman managed to survive a mountain lion attack seems to have many people asking themselves, “Am I going to get attacked by a mountain lion?” The Short answer: probably not.
Travis Kaufman’s story takes place at Horsetooth Mountain, a popular recreation area outside of Fort Collins, Colorado, where I went to College. I grew up in a Mountain Town in Colorado, where we literally shared out back yard with mountain lions. Many of our friends and neighbors lost their pets to mountain lions, mountain lions stored their kills under people’s porches or on the roof of their homes, and you could often hear them “Calling” at night. I know it sounds like the place was crawling with lions, to the point that they were almost a nuisance, but the fact of the matter is, that Mountain lions do not really want anything to do with us. During my eighteen years of living in the mountains, I only saw one Mountain lion EVER, as it dashed in front of my car.
That being said, it is still important to use caution when spending time outdoors in Mountain Lion country. One of the first things you can do to decrease your chance of a mountain Lion encounter is to get your activates in before dusk. Mountain Lions are nocturnal animals, meaning they do most of their hunting at night, during the daytime, mountain lions are happy to spend most of their time in their den, significantly decreasing the likelihood that you will encounter one. There is safety in numbers, avoid walking or hiking alone and make noise. If the Mountain lion can hear you coming, it most likely will not stick around to see what the commotion is about. If you are adventuring with little ones, keep them close. Unfortunately, small children (and pets) look like prey to mountain lions and are more likely to be attacked.
If you do encounter a mountain lion, do everything you can to make yourself look bigger, and less like prey. Raise your arms/ walking stick over your head, pull your jacket open, and use a loud stern voice. Mountain lions will typically avoid confrontation, so make sure you provide them with an escape route. DO NOT RUN! If you run, or crouch, you will look like prey to the lion and they will be more likely to pounce or chase after you.
If you spot a wild animal appreciate it from a far, never approach an animal. If you spot a mountain lion, before it notices you, it is still best to leave the area. In the extremely unlikely event that a mountain lion attacks you, channel your inner Travis Kaufman, and fight back!