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What to Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion

Knowing what to do if you do encounter a mountain lion can reduce the potential for a conflict.

  • Do Not Approach a Lion—Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  • Do Not Run from a Lion—Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Do not turn your back. Make eye contact. If there are small children nearby, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
  • Do Not Crouch Down or Bend Over—A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. When in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
  • Appear Larger—Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
  • Be vocal—Talk calmly and regularly.
  • Teach others how to behave.—One who starts running could initiate an attack.
  • If a lion attacks:
    • If you are unarmed, you can use bear pepper spray to deter the lion. Many potential victims have also fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
    • If you have a firearm, and know how to use it safely and effectively, Montana law allows you to kill a mountain lion to defend yourself, another person or a domestic dog. If you do kill a lion in self defense you must report it to FWP within 72 hours.
  • Defend other people—If you need to defend other people, be aggressive.