Mountain Lion Attacks in California

by Michael
(London, UK)

Like all mountain lion attacks across the United States and Canada, mountain lion attacks in California are rare, very rare but there is no doubt that there is a distorted perception born out of plain fear that attacks are more likely than they are and the fear is somewhat unjustified. People apparently think that a return to hunting the cougar would do the trick and eliminate mountain lion attacks. However despite the ban on hunting as many cougars are shot today as were in the days of allowed hunting (src:

And the level of fatal attacks are a tiny fraction of those that occur in traffic accidents and by attacks from dogs. We should concentrate on these before killing an animal that is precious to the world. We should also take some of the blame for mountain lion attacks. Human population growth and habitat destruction forces the cougar closer to human and decreased prey (due to human activity) will also encourage attacks. In addition not encouraging attacks by for example taking a dog on wilderness walks is our responsibility.

Also what comes over clearly on reading the accounts and data on attacks is that rocks thrown at the head of the cougar deters it and on a number of occasions has caused the cougar to release the attacked person. The table below shows how rare attacks are. Often a cougar suspected of being the attacker is shot. I understand this of course but it just seems wrong. “No attacks” means no reported attacks.

Date Attack – Event No of people attacked
1890 boy killed 1
1891 – 1908 No attacks 0
1909 Rabid cougar injures woman and child. Both die of rabies. 2
1910 – 1985 No attacks 0
1986 Boy and girl attacked – separate incidents. Girl seriously hurt, boy minor injuries 2
1987 – 1991 No attacks 0
1992 Boy attacked, scratched and bit. The children were on a trail ahead of father. Rock thrown at cougar’s head deterred it. 1
1993 Unverified attack on boy and girl attacked suffering minor injuries. 1
1994 3 attacks (a) woman killed (b) woman suffered minor injuries attacked by rabid cougar (d) woman killed 3
1995 Man attacked suffering minor injuries. Rocks deterred cougar 1
1996 – 2003 No attacks
2004 (a) Woman on bike attacked and seriously injured (b) woman attacked and seriously injured 2
2005 – 2006 No attacks 0
2007 70 year old man attacked and the cougar deterred by a log blow to snout. 1
117 years 14 attacks


  1. Mountain lion attacks in California are very rare and the risk much less than many other commonly accepted hazards
  2. Cougars can be deterred and chased off with calm and proper technique
  3. Proactive steps can be taken to help prevent attacks
  4. For me: we shouldn’t automatically shoot an animal for acting normally.

From Mountain Lion Attacks in California to Mountain lion attack for lots more.

I am indebted to this fine site: for the stats.

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Mountain Lion Attacks in California

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Dec 27, 2010
poor review
by: Anonymous

The reason why the review was poor, is that people still want to seeking out the animals and killing them.

Dec 27, 2010
Mountain Lion Territory
by: Anonymous

I feel that people should stay away from the Mountain Lion’s territory. That is their personal habitat. We all have our places in this world, and the Wild Animals has theirs. Does not make sense to go into their space and then kill them, of course they will attack you, you are an invader. Some people has no respect for the Animals, they think they have a right to kill the animal in the animals habitat. That is so very wrong

Mar 05, 2010
Poor review
by: Anonymous

This article is very wrong. There have been many more attacks than this. In fact they mention “Woman on bike attacked and seriously injured”. Well on that same trail a man was killed and eaten just minutes before the woman.


Mountain Lion Attacks in California — 2 Comments

  1. i have seen and actually been extremely close to one of these majestic animals,it looked at me, I looked at it . i felt kind of giddy like a kid catching his first fish .the big cat just strolled off i hike this mountain all the time i know where this cat lives and leave him/her be they are quite beautiful and we should leave them alone

    • Thank you “the real deal”. You are the real deal 😉 We should definitely leave them in peace and try harder to live in harmony with them rather than be so frightened and reactionary about their presence.

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