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How to Handle a Mountain Lion in the Wild, According to Bear Grylls

If a hiker is on a trail anywhere in the western states, there’s a chance they could come face-to-face with a cougar. Knowing how to handle a mountain lion in the wild is an essential skill to keep hikers safe. Survivalist and TV host Bear Grylls knows firsthand the skills required to keep himself separated from a mountain lion, and continue the adventure.

Here’s what Grylls had to say:

In this Bear Survival Tip, the first and most important thing is to avoid running. Mountain lions are chase predators. That means if someone runs, there’s a good chance the cougar will follow. It’s part of their natural instincts. Also, mountain lions prefer to attack from behind, giving these big cats an advantage. 

Tip #2 is to be imposing and back away slowly. People should try to make themselves appear large. Putting hands in the air or waving trekking poles is a great way to look like a larger creature that a cougar may not want to mess with. People should avoid crouching or bending over.

While doing this, hikers should keep eye contact with the animal. If someone looks away, the mountain lion may see that as an opportunity to attack. Continue to back away until you’re out of its territory. 

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Another helpful tip is throwing rocks or sticks near the animal. Most animals prefer not to fight, and seeing a person as a threat is a good way to scare a creature off. People can accomplish a similar effect by speaking in a loud, firm voice.

National Park Service officials want to remind families in the backcountry or camping to pick up small children if they see a mountain lion. Predators look for smaller prey, and unfortunately, that could be a child.

Finally, if someone is attacked, they should fight with any means necessary.

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