Tag Archive for: Safety

Don’t Look Like Food!


Apex predators are thus named, because as adults they rarely face a natural competitor-except man. As with all living things their purpose is to survive and procreate. Food and the search for it is the most basic driver and there is a trigger that occurs with many predators that is called the ‘prey response’. Movement by other animals on the landscape, often close to the ground, makes them look like a potential meal-it increases focus, readiness, and, as you can see, here, action, on the part of this particular mountain lion. Running or walking alone in wild habitat with cover, especially at dawn and dusk, requires preparation and vigilance. Make sure you know the area, maintain situational awareness at all times and if you encounter a mountain lion

The National Park Service shares the following safety tips regarding mountain lion encounters:

If you encounter a lion, remember the goals are to convince it that you are not prey and that you may be dangerous. Follow these safety tips:

Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so that they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.

Do not crouch down or bend over. A human standing up is just not the right shape for a lion’s prey. Conversely, a person squatting or bending over resembles a four-legged prey animal. In mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.

Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

Fight back if attacked. A hiker in southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

One thing we can share with you is that mountain lion attacks are incredibly rare and with the right knowledge, preparation and forethought, we can seek to enjoy our time outdoors and stay safe.

What To Do Wednesday: Issue #6

What to do if your neighbor is feeding wildlife.

A cougar family that was relocated after preying on human-fed deer in an urban area (Photo: Jackson Hole News & Guide / courtesy photo)

A cougar family that was relocated after preying on human-fed deer in an urban area (Photo: Jackson Hole News & Guide / courtesy photo)

They say everyone likes a little drama. While we at The Cougar Fund typically prefer to get straight to “the facts,” we have decided to delve deeper into one of the more controversial issues when it comes to wildlife. Feeding wildlife – such as putting out salt licks for ungulates or grains to attract small mammals (bird feeders aren’t a problem, so long as you hang them properly and at the right time of year) – is one such issue, and a perfect topic to discuss in our What To Do Wednesday series.

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What To Do Wednesday: Issue #5

What to do to keep bears out of your yard.

Photo Credit: jessleephotos.com / Defenders of Wildlife

Photo Credit: jessleephotos.com / Defenders of Wildlife

By this point, most people will be well aware that bears are out and about again. As we highlighted in an earlier post, living with bears (and all carnivores) requires that we make a number of changes to our lifestyle and behavior in order to safely coexist. It was recently brought to our attention, however, that there is an often overlooked bear-human safety issue: lawns & gardens. Things like bird feeders, carrying bear spray when recreating, and proper trash and food storage get a lot of attention (rightly so), but it may not be particularly obvious that something as subtle as your lawn can be a major bear attractant. Hence, we believe it is worth discussing how to keep bears out of your yard.

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What To Do Wednesday: Issue #4

What to do to keep you and your pets safe from traps on public lands.

Here in Jackson Hole, and in many other places throughout the West, the thaw has begun! By now, many of us are itching to get outside and use our feet as our primary mode of transportation (as opposed to skis, snowshoes, and other over-snow tools). Hiking brings with it a whole slew of safety considerations (bears, sudden changes in weather, dehydration, exposure, etc), but this week we’ve decided to take a look at traps on public lands, and how you can keep yourself and your pets safe while recreating.

Sydney, the yellow lab on the right, was caught in a trap.

Sydney, the yellow lab on the right, was caught in a trap.

Trapping is an issue that hits close to home for The Cougar Fund. Sydney, the yellow lab pictured above, was caught in a small animal trap near Moran, Wyoming. She lost eight teeth (all her canines), and had an injury to her foot. There are countless other stories like this (and many that end a lot worse), and it raises the importance of better understanding trapping and how to stay safe while recreating.

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What To Do Wednesday: Issue #3

What to do if you see a cougar near your home.

Photo: Billings Gazette / Courtesy Photo

Too close for comfort. (Photo: Billings Gazette / Courtesy Photo)

Following the recent news that a cougar was killed by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for getting too comfortable  around a Helena home, it seems appropriate to discuss the nuances of safely coexisting with these felids. Because cougars are wild animals, their behavior can be unpredictable – but not as unpredictable as you might think. As a result, learning a little bit about these cats can go a long way in helping you understand when they are or aren’t a threat, and how you can prevent conflict. So, if you see a cougar near your home, consider these points:

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What To Do Wednesday: Issue #2

What to do when bears start emerging from hibernation.

Photo Credit: Tom Mangelsen

Photo Credit: Tom Mangelsen

Incredibly, March is already here and we’re slowly but surely crawling towards spring. Spring brings many welcome changes: the thaw, wildflowers, longer days, and warmer temperatures. It also brings a few challenges for residents and recreational users throughout the west, none more significant than the emergence of bears from hibernation. When bears exit their dens is highly variable and dependent primarily on environmental conditions. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, for example, grizzly bears can emerge anytime from the first week of February to the last week of May, with males typically leaving earlier then females (Haroldson et al., 2002). Thus, we can reasonably expect for bears to be active very soon, if not already!

Of course, living and playing in bear country comes with a number of responsibilities. However, a few simple lifestyle changes can go a great way in helping people and bears stay safe. Here are a few reminders and tips to help you prepare for life (again) with Ursus arctos horribilis and Ursus americanus:

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What To Do Wednesday: Issue #1

What to do if you encounter a cougar while skiing or snowshoeing in the backcountry.


It’s February, and the snow is flying in the western mountains. For many of us, that means putting on skis or snowshoes and exploring the backcountry. Many of us head outdoors to find wildlife, but what should you do if the animal you spot while enjoying pristine powder is a cougar?

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Moose Wilson Road Public Scoping Period February 2014 – Cougar Fund Comment