Friday, June 26, 2009

Cougars! (Safety Tips)

In yesterday’s blog we reported about the three-year-old girl who was attacked by a cougar in Squamish (to read that story, click here), so with this topic fresh on our minds it seems fitting to follow up with a blog on cougars.

First off here is a little general info for you. Cougars and their relatives can be found just about anywhere from the Yukon to the Southern Andes.   In the Pacific Northwest males range from 115 to 198 lbs and the females are smaller at 64 to 141 lbs.  These feisty felines will literally eat anything with meat on it from moose, elk, and horses down to insects. 

Once a large prey has been killed, the cougar will feed on the corpse for numerous days and this usually will keep them satisfied for close to two weeks until the hunger induced urge to kill rises again.  However, during the early months of a kitten’s life the mother will hunt and catch prey much more often, sometimes as much as one piece of meat every three days. 

And speaking of kittens and cougars getting it on kitty style, a male and female will meet for a brief "encounter" and then the male will disappear leaving the mother to raise the one to six kittens on her own.  As the kittens mature only one out of the liter is expected to survive to adulthood and live for the full 8 to 13 years as observed through various studies.

Now that we have been briefly acquainted with this beautiful animal, there are a few things you should know to help prevent a cougar from getting acquainted with you.  When you are out for a hike it is highly recommended that you go with a least one other person and be aware that cougars are most likely to be hunting at dawn or dusk, although they will hunt and scamper 24/7 if they feel like it.  

If you are hiking with small children, keep them close, as their high pitched voices and typical less coordinated movement seems to encourage cougars to attack.  It is also a good idea to make noise so that you don't surprise a cougar by accident. 

Most likely you will not run into a cougar while out hiking, but if you are lucky enough to spot a cougar and unlucky enough for it to become aggressive towards you, the experts advise that you should immediately pick up any children, make yourself as big as possible (stand up straight and arc your arms out to the side), pick up a large stick if any nearby, make eye contact and stare down the cougar, shout in a loud but slow and calm voice, and throw rocks in an attempt to scare it off.  These tips should help you from having a bad experience with these magnificent cats.

Below is a quick clip of a cougar attacking an elk.

Oh and one last obvious tip, if you find a cougar kitten in the wild, don't pick it up and play with it.  As with moose and bear, encounters with young and a nearby mother are not good at all.

Have fun out there!

-- Erik

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article is good and well worth reading.

However, I'm sorry to say that I couldn't wipe this dumb grin off of my face thinking about these cougars.