Coexisting with Cougars

With an observant eye and some precautions, you can coexist with the pumas around your property while keeping yourself, your livestock, and your pets safe.

| October/November 2020

Photo by Adobe Stock/Seread

When we first moved to our long-wished-for rural property, one of the things I looked forward to most was walking in nature. Almost daily, I rounded up the kids and dog to hike through the woods. That is, until one afternoon, when something disturbing happened.

My children were catching frogs in the pond and I was snacking on salmonberries when, out of the blue, our dog started to growl. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he stared at something I couldn’t see. He sniffed the air and growled again, and then he did something he’d never done before and hasn’t done since: He began to pull on his leash, dragging me back toward our house, barking and growling the entire time. I decided that the dog knew something we didn’t; I rounded up the kids, and back to the house we went.

After my husband heard the story, he walked back to the scene of our dog’s strange behavior to see if he could find any clues about what upset him. What he discovered gave him chills: cougar claw marks on a tree, as well as a cougar den tucked away in a steep bank. We already knew cougars lived in the area, but now, we realized they were awfully close to our home and livestock.

There are more than 80 different names for cougar, including “mountain lion,” “puma,” “panther,” and “catamount.” Whatever you call them, cougars are one of the largest felines in North America, with adults weighing from about 60 to 200 pounds. (The largest ever recorded was a whopping 276 pounds!) They can stand approximately 2 to 3 feet tall at the shoulders and measure 8 feet long. They’re the ultimate predators, hunting in territories that are generally 50 to 200 square miles. But how dangerous are these big cats to humans? And how can we protect our livestock from them?

Cougar Signs

Experts such as Debra Chase, CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation, say that cougars are mostly afraid of humans and don’t see us as potential prey. Occasionally, though, humans fool them. Quick movements, such as running or bicycling, which make humans resemble prey, sometimes lead to cougar attacks. Children, because of their size and swiftness, may be more vulnerable. Still, cougar attacks on humans are uncommon; livestock and pets are more likely to become cougar prey. Even in the suburbs, it’s not unheard of (though it’s rare) for cougars to kill, say, chickens or small dogs.

Chiptooth Sneer
10/20/2020 1:17:50 PM

Is there another big cat in North America? Why didn't you say "the biggest big cat in North America".

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters