For some reason I have had multiple encounters with mountain lions.

In my 20's while camping in a somewhat remote campground near the continental divide in CO I woke to a large mountain lion laying outside our tent but half on top of me. Guess it was getting warm. I was able to get out from under it then listened as it got up and walked around the tent. When it got to the side where the tent had a window I looked out and saw it was a good sized lion.

There was only one other group in the camp ground that early spring. We never went back there. Lucky to be alive.

Since that time, I have been stalked 3 times when hiking off trails and seen cats multiple times while on trails. This has freaked me out enough that I'm especially afraid to bring my dog on hikes.

Why would cats be so drawn to me (or my dog)? I wasn't menstruating or carrying food usually and had at least one other person with me. I miss hiking so much, but am afraid I won't be able to protect my dog and others near me.

What do you suggest as prevention? Gun laws are so strict.

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    Where did this take place exactly? It could be that mountain lions have been getting used to humans in that area.
    – user15958
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 9:37
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    Wow. I've only managed to see a mountain lion once, and I was in a car. But, generally mountain lions want nothing to do with people, and really don't want anything to do with dogs. They know dogs will fight back, and dogs are used in hunting mountain lions (to tree them). So, a good sized dog would be a fine thing to have if mountain lions are as attracted to you as they seem to be!
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 12:57
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    I feel like you're going to encounter a lot of envious people on this site. Cougar sightings are not common. Snuggling one is almost unheard of.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 16:43
  • Colorado is not very restrictive about firearms. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Colorado. Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:37
  • I would rather have the cougar go after my dog than after me. More to the point, a dog pays far more attention to sound and smell than I do. My dog has been 'spooked' a few times and would stay very close, watching. When he gets like this, I am much more alert. I suggest reading up on mountain lion behaviour. Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


Sorry, don't have any references handy. But from what I've read (including ranger stories), cougar attacks on humans are very rare. And from what was described as stalking, is just plain watching. Either from curiosity, or making sure you aren't a threat. If they were planning an attack, they would be a lot more stealthy.

Now, cougar attacks on pets is more common. Keep your dog on leash or trained to walk right by your side. And as someone else already suggested, carry a wooden staff to fight back with.

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    Good point about possibly mistaking curiosity for stalking.
    – ab2
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 0:21

I doubt that there is anything about your body chemistry that is a cougar attractor. But, if you are a petite person, a lion will see you as easy prey. And, if the stalking occurred at dawn or dusk, know that that is prime hunting time for cougars.

A reference that I cannot now find advised people not to hike in cougar country in a group smaller than three people. The source cited statistics for California that suggested that cougars avoided groups of three people. Of course, there are so few cougar encounters that the statistics have large error bars.

You want to know how to stop attracting cougars, not how to react if attacked. So I won't go into how to defend yourself against a cougar attack.

If you hike in a group of three, and especially if each person has a dog, cougars should give you a wide berth. Wild animals have good reason to avoid encounters in which they might get hurt -- there is no 911 for animals to call.

If you don't want to hike in a group, then my suggestion is to research the area(s) where you were stalked by contacting the relevant authorities. Describe what happened, when and where, and ask if your experience was unusual and if so, to what they attribute your being stalked. They will know the area and maybe even individual cougars. Your experience may be local in space (a smallish area with one or more problem cougars) or local in time (the problem cougar(s) may have died) -- we can't know from the information you have given us. If stalking is not rare in the areas you hiked, then you have to find another area or hike in a group.

One last point: stooping over or kneeling makes you look like easy prey. Stay erect.

Really final point: The snuggling is mind boggling.

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    The snuggling really is mind boggling. I wonder if it was purring...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 22:48

Generally speaking, the most legal proof solution is to hike in a group and or with a dog. While really small dogs do get preyed on by mountain lions from time to time, the dogs used for treeing mountain lions are not necessarily very big especially when compared to a mountain lion.

You might also consider a solid wood walking stick and pepper spray, although pepper spray has its own set of legality issues and that information is harder to find and can be more restricted than firearms in some states in the U.S.

Also see,

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