Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mountain Lions: 21 Mountain Bikers: 0

If you're a hiker, biker, jogger or bird watcher living in North America and getting your fresh air anywhere outside of a seriously paved-over piece of real estate, you're at risk of becoming an entrée.

I would have thought your chances of being knawed on were more likely in Davy Crockett's time, but no, apparently that's not the case.

Once thought to be endangered, even extinct in many areas, writes Linda Lewis on her website, mountain lions have made a strong comeback throughout the United States and Canada after bountied hunting was banned in the 1960's. As a result of additional policies to protect and manage lion populations, increases in the numbers of these predators have resulted in more damage complaints and human encounters. A recent estimate by wildlife ecologists puts lion numbers at more than 31,000 in 12 Western states. This number [suggests there] may be more mountain lions in the West than there were before European settlement according to Maurice Hornocker, a senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. States such as California estimate lion populations which were as low as 600 are now closer to 6,000. Though scientific studies are difficult and expensive, Oregon is another state with similar estimates (about 5,000 currently). Recently, the presence of mountain lions has been confirmed in Manitoba, Canada. My e-mails report sightings in regions where they were considered extinct, including Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, Arkansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ontario.

Reading through the harrowing accounts on her page of Confirmed Attacks (2001-now) will have you thinking twice about lacing up your running shoes for a brisk walk at the local golf course. And if a camping trip is your idea of a great way to help your couch-potatoe kids discover the wonders of nature, I have two words for you: Discovery Channel.

"Of the 19 confirmed deaths, 12 were children," writes Lewis. "Lions can sprint approximately 40 miles per hour, leap up 15 feet in one bound, spring forward almost 45 feet, and drop silently 60 feet and land running." Against those odds I say lock little Timmy and Suzy in the RV for the weekend. They can enjoy nature through the windows when they take a break from the Playstation!

These three images have been added to my Big Cat Attack! Flickr set.


  1. I have a question for my avid hiker hubby ....
    is the life (Leif) insurance paid up?????

  2. I would sure like to see a compilation for each of the following for any attacks by mountain lions on humans (#2 a minor

    type of exception):

    Fatal attacks:

    1. Time of day, Month, eg J F M Ap My Jun Jul Au Se Oc No D;

    eg 5 AM, eg 7 PM....

    2. When the attack was either on a human or animal, whether there was one or more humans present with the victim (and how many). (Depending on the gathered facts, such statistic could contradict any "folklore" cougars are "typically" afraid of either humans or numbers. Important to know just how deadly they can be, and maybe, knowing themselves as such, how unafraid. They are, after all, killing machines of creatures much larger than themselves, eg elk and deer, usually this when it's one-on-one.) Y or N

    3. Whether attack had any warning to victim. Y or N

    4. Whether attack continued even after likely fight-back injury to lion. (Have heard of, eg, a cougar that continued assaulting a human even after an actual stab wound.) Y or N

    5. Weight of lion vs weight of thing attacked num x vs num y

    If I have more items, I'll forward to you.


    (Above originally sent to:
    ...but mail-returned for some reason.)