It doesn’t surprise me that mountain lions are frightened of humans. We are the top predator; the super-predator on the planet. A lot of animals are frightened of humans (all animals?). We are even frightened of each other which is unsurprising as well. An underlying fear is one of our biggest motivators.
It’s ironic that people are frightened of mountain lions. It seems that we are frightened of each other. There’s obviously a lot of fear in the world. How do we know that mountain lions are frightened of humans?
A study was carried out by a lady, Justin Smith, in California. She discovered that mountain lions are frightened of human voices. These are normal voices; not someone yelling. She played talk radio for 30 minutes through a loudspeaker near the kill of a mountain lion. Mountain lions hide their prey after they kill it and come back to it. In the intervening time before the cat came back she put a radio (or other device) not far from the kill.
When the mountain lions approached their meal and heard the talk radio they ran away or became wary. Sometimes the cat was so alarmed by the sound of the human voice that he/she did not come back. That indicates quite a lot of fear because it’s quite hard work for a mountain lion to catch prey and they don’t want to waste energy having to do it again after abandoning their kill. It goes against natural survival instinct to do that.
Justine Smith was careful to make sure that the talk radio that she played was normal and balanced. It contained the voices of men and women and there was no yelling. Talk radio was played for 30 minutes. She also played the sound of frogs for 30 minutes as a comparison and control.
As expected the mountain lions were not frightened of the sound of frogs but humans? They are scary. How did this come about? It is thought that over time because of humans hunting mountain lions or killing them for other reasons they have become wary of humans. This is not unique to mountain lions. It has happened to other large wild cats. You’ll find leopards and lions altering their behaviour to avoid humans when hunting prey. In areas where lions are more likely to meet humans they hunt at night to avoid them.
Leopards also hunt at night and do their best to avoid people. Sometimes it is impossible because of human population growth and the growth of urbanisation and human settlements with associated business activity. This forces the big cats into conflict with humans with the inevitable consequence: the cat is killed.
In America, mountain lions are often forced into areas where there are people because of new settlements. Sometimes you see them wandering down roads in urban areas because those roads were built on their land. New developments and new towns often encroach upon the habitat of mountain lions which once again brings them into conflict with people. Without wanting to be derogatory about people, it is the fault of people that this happens.
But people should remember that mountain lions are probably more frightened of us than we are of them. You can scare them away. You don’t have to shoot them if you encounter a mountain lion.
You are 1000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion so please look after them and don’t be frightened of them. Mountain lions have some characteristics of the domestic cat. They’re quite shy, retiring animals and they shouldn’t be hunted with dogs and terrorised by people. They should be left alone to live their lives in their own habitat. People should stop breeding to allow wild animals more space. That’s my thought but it is very politically incorrect and a lot of people won’t agree with it.
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