Mountain Lion - Cougar


In recent years, the threat of mountain lion attacks has grown in some areas, reflecting the invasion of its range and habitat by humans with their livestock and pets. Additionally, the animal's numbers have increased in certain locations. On top of that, the threat level could be increased because some mountain lions have been infected with rabies.

Threat to Humans

A mountain lion rarely attacks a human. In fact, "In the last 100 years," said the Mountain Lion Foundation, "only 16 fatal [mountain lion] attacks occurred in the entire North American continent. In that time, more than 15,000 people were killed by lightning; 4,000 by bees; 10,000 by deer; 1,300 by rattlesnakes." Most recently, in June of 2008, a mountain lion killed a 55-year-old man at his home in Pinos Altos, New Mexico, in the southern edge of the Gila Wilderness. Although the risk is comparatively small, mountain lions can raise some risk in or near wilderness areas, particularly for small children. (See Mountain Lion Control and How to Prevent Attacks.) Should a mountain lion attack, inflicting even minor wounds, you should report the event to local authorities and seek medical care. The animal could be rabid.



Threat to Livestock

In some locations, mountain lions have inflicted considerable damage to farmers' and ranchers' livestock. In some years in the western United States, for instance, mountain lions may kill hundreds of sheep and goats - the favorite livestock prey - and some cattle and horses. They also take a toll on pigs, poultry and rabbits.

"Damage," says the U. S. Department of Agriculture in its paper, "Managing Mountain Lion Problems," is "often random and unpredictable, but when it occurs, large numbers of livestock can be killed in short periods of time, a behavior known as surplus killing."

A mountain lion can be incredibly brazen, agile, powerful and stealthy. In one report, published in the Our Lands and Their Creatures Internet site, a mountain lion jumped a six-foot high fence, killed a large goat, and hauled it over the fence - all without nearby residents hearing a thing.

Threat to Pets

Mountain lions, especially near their habitat, seem to attack pets fairly regularly, although the evidence appears to be more anecdotal than statistical. According to newspaper and other reports, mountain lions, especially if hungry, attack pets on wilderness trails, in back yards, even on back porches.

Coexisting With Mountain Lions

"Humans must learn to coexist with [mountain lions]," said Dr. Dennis McKee in the Wilderness Medical Society Internet site. "Attacks by [mountain lions] are a rare but dramatic component of wilderness medicine. [Mountain lion] attacks are increasing as humans encroach on [mountain lion] habitats and as [mountain lion] populations rebound."

3 Mountain Lions on trail next to a creek

Source/writer: Jay Sharp

Health and Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this web site and by this web site through content provided by Authors or third party providers, and in other sources to which it refers, is PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease.

Information provided at and by DesertUSA is NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE. If you have a medical concern, or suspect you have a health problem you should consult your primary doctor or specialist.

If you cannot agree to this Health and Medical Disclaimer, you are not permitted to use this web site and should exit immediately.

Video available on this subject. For a video on the Mountain Lion Click Here Video available on this subject.


Page not found - DesertUSA

It looks like the link pointing here was faulty. Maybe try searching?

Scroll to Top


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -