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Cougar Encounters

Your chances of encountering a cougar are slim, but...

You will probably never see a cougar, even from a distance, let alone encounter one up close. Cougar attacks on humans are even less likely. Dogs kill 18 people in the U.S. every year, but in the last 113 years, cougars have killed only 13 people in North America. So take precautions, but don't be overly concerned.

Here are some suggestions to increase your personal safety-

  • Hike in groups and make noise to avoid surprising a cougar. Carry a sturdy walking stick.
  • Don't jog alone. Carry a whistle, noisemaker, and perhaps some mace. Jogging with a dog might actually be more likely to trigger an attack. Cougars may see dogs as prey, rather than a threat.
  • Face the cougar and stand upright. Avoid bending over to pick up a gun or stick.
  • Try to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket.
  • Keep children close to you and pick them up if you see a cougar. Tell them NOT to run.
  • Do not approach a cougar, especially one feeding or with kittens. Most cougars will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  • Do not assume that a fearless cougar is a pet!
  • Stop. Back away slowly. Running may stimulate the cougar's instinct to chase and attack.
  • If the cougar approaches you, throw stones, branches, or anything you can get without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. Try to convince the cougar you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to it.
  • Fight back! People have successfully warded off attacks with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Remain standing or try to get back up.
Remember, the odds of encountering a cougar while on foot are very small.

Michigan Cougar