Suburban Mountain Lions

How to deal with a mountain lion attack

Mountain Lion Attack – Extremely Rare. This illustration is a distortion of relative size (see below). Photo by Ingrid Taylar

As the population of the United States gradually grows and the activities of people expands across the wide open spaces of the grand American landscape, what was once the habitat and home of the mountain lion becomes a shopping mall or a eight-lane highway. Apparently only one puma (another name for the mountain lion) has crossed the Ventura Highway. When an offspring of that puma was found wandering around a courtyard in Santa Monica, California, probably looking for his own home territory amongst human suburbia, panic ensued, chaos followed and the inevitable conclusion was reached: he was shot dead.

Recriminations followed and I am so happy to hear that. A lot of people in the USA don’t think that the response to a puma behaving naturally in an area that was once wild landscape and his home should be to kill the cat! It is such a blindly simplistic and unthinking reaction as to make me shake my head in disbelief.

I realize that a puma is a large predator but…there have been precious few attacks on humans over the preceding 100 or more years. Lethal attacks by domestic dogs are far more common. The puma is not that large. Extremely rarely this beautiful animal attacks a person and it is usually an unsupervised child in an area where pumas are known to roam, or perhaps a women. There are ways for macho men to move the cat along without killing it.

Is it beyond the bounds of the imagination of mankind to find ways to live in relative harmony with the puma in America? There should be a nationwide, obligatory policy that sets out in simple language a procedure for dealing non-lethally and humanely with the suburban mountain lion and the police should either take a back seat or be trained how to do it.

The task should not be left the police who have guns and who are trained to use those guns. The police, by definition, must be the wrong people to deal with a suburban mountain lion. It is not their sort of job. I have read so many stories of mountain lions being shot that should have been allowed to live.

I remember one boy who was approached by a mountain lion. The police arrived and shot the cat. The boy was surprised. Even at his tender age he did not see the logic behind the almost automatic destruction of a beautiful part of the American way of life just because people decided to move into the cat’s back yard.

Note: the picture above comes from part of a plaque showing how to deal with a puma attack. We would assume that the person was an adult. On that basis the puma is far too large. This indicates a inbuilt fear of the puma. If the person in the picture was a boy or a petite woman they would be to scale. The average weight of an adult male puma in Colorado is 61.6 kg (in one study) or 134 lbs. The average female puma in Colorado weighs 98 lbs. The average American man weighs 191 pounds (2002). The average female weight is 164.3 pounds. The length of a male puma is 4 and one third feet (4.33 feet) from head to base of tail. I think I have made my point. Americans are overly fearful of the puma and too eager to shoot it for that reason.

Americans should get in touch with nature. (source of weights: Wild Cats of the World by the Sunquists).

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Suburban Mountain Lions — 9 Comments

  1. Yeah, that is crazy. We have our Animal Control Officers use tranquilizer-darts to take down any wild beast that comes into the human venue. I have to point out that due to the large number of [idiots] people that own ‘exotic’ animals in California, I wonder if it was someone’s pet who escaped. Most animals that go into populated areas are looking for water. We just had two adorable bobcat kittens found in the backyard of a well-to-do vacationing family. The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center of Arizona located the nest under a tool shed and staked it out for several days. The mom never returned. She could of been scared off by the scent left by all the people (including all local news stations) who had entered the backyard. So they had to take them. They were in good enough health, but we are all sad that they couldn’t be returned to the mother. Local animals experts say the mother was most certainly looking for a good source of water and they had a big swimming pool. Makes sense.

    Still, it baffles me that the very liberal California population would stand for such treatment of animals. We have a strict policy here in Arizona, where animals are treed by dogs and tranq’d, relocated to a place with a good source of water and food. They also mark them so they can see if they make return trips. I know in other states they do have return visitors, but we don’t have any. Not enough bears to worry about anymore.

    I wonder if the actions will cause any change. I sure hope it will.

    • Thanks Dan for an Arizonian insight. I tend to get angry at unnecessary killing of wild cats. It is so careless and thoughtless to grab the gun. Humans are meant to be smart! Could have fooled me. Arizona seems to have a more enlightened approach which surprises me because I thought it was a right-wing state.

  2. When a brown bear made his way from up north Wisconsin down to Milwaukee in 1995, they didn’t kill him. The bear was tranquilized and returned to the wild. I would think a bear is just as dangerous as a big cat. People fear cats so much (even small domestic cats) which is probably why the cat gets killed and the bear gets relocated. Generally, it seems to me that people don’t fear bears enough but they are overly fearful of big cats.

    • Yes, I think people are overly or irrationally fearful of large cats. It is probably the tiger, lion and jaguar and their long history. The puma is much smaller than the tiger and lion though and it is not a ‘big cat’. It behaves more like a pussy cat!

  3. A puma is bigger than Monty, whom I often address or refer to as “small cat.” People fear cats of any size, it seems, which contributes to the persecution of feral cats– even ones Monty’s size.

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