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Cougar (Mountain Lion) Felis concolor

Wildlife encounters are on the rise. The current mountain lion population estimate for California is 4,000-6,000 adult cougars. These creatures are known by many names including cougar, puma, panther, catamount, and more.

In the past they have been more elusive due to hunting and habits of avoiding humans. Today sightings, encounters, and incidents seem to be on the rise. On this page you will find cougar comments taken from an interview with animal behaviorist, Diana L. Guerrero. Please also visit the animal attack index for links to additional attack commentary, history, and statistics.

Humboldt County Mountain Lion Attack (2007)

Game wardens shot and killed a pair of mountain lions after a 70-year-old man was mauled during a hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on January 24, 2007. Jim Hamm of Fortuna (Humboldt County), was hiking with his wife in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on the North Coast of California when he was attacked by a single lion.

Mountain lion incidents seem to be on the increase but just why is still speculated. There are a variety of factors that might contribute to an attack. Predators usually seek out the sick, young, or old. Those types of prey are usually easier to take down.

Human populations have heavily encroached into wildlife habitat so that animals have been pushed into smaller areas. In some cases, normal prey may be scarce while encounters and habituation to humans has increased. The desensitization to humans is a problem since as wild animals lose fear of people encounters and incidents increase.

Coyotes are an example of a smaller predator that has urbanized to the point that they will grab pets from their yards or right from the leash as they are being walked. Once more elusive, these small predators have adapted and virtually ignore humans in some areas. Will mountain lions do the same?

Hard to say if that will happen but we need to seriously address the needs of wildlife and manage our exposure to this threat. See the mountain lion attack tips here.

Jim Hamm Recovery News After Cougar Attack

Summary of Mountain Lion Attacks in the US and Canada

California cougar attacks

Fish and Game's Verified Lion Attacks in California

Jim Hamm: Serious Infection from Mountain Lion Attack

Cougar Commentary

Hamm's Condition Worsens

Jim Hamm Doing As Well As Could Be Expected

Variety of Animal Attacks and the Humans Who Survived Them

Mountain Lion Attack Report (San Diego)

Nell Hamm Drives Off Attacking Cougar

Two Humboldt Mountain Lions Killed After Attack

Nell Hamm Comments on Cougar Attack

What do you think of the recent reports of a mountain lion living in Griffith Park?

Sightings of the Griffith Park mountain lion were first reported in April 2004, but the animal has been in the park for a while. Both wildlife officials and animal services have been aware of it and have been monitoring the creature. When asked about the increased sightings of such creatures animal behaviorist and author Diana L. Guerrero said, "Public awareness has increased and people are on the lookout for the cat and any other unusual sightings."

In her book, What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons of Wild & Tame Creatures, she mentions the presence of mountain lions in a northern California community. "Everyone was aware of the cat and the cougar did no harm. The mountain lion signaled that the ecosystem was healthy."

Guerrero said, "Cougars are curious cats and their normal prey species are deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other small animals. As this cougar has claimed a territory within the park, the other predators (coyotes for example) are moving away from the cougar's central location. There have always been predators and prey species in the park and it is nothing to panic over...As we encroach on animal habitat, we have to insure that we make room and preserve habitat for them to continue to thrive and exist."

She also added, "Some people might take a more esoteric view. You could say that we are noticing and observing more activity because development and human impact on the world are at a critical point. Nature is crying out for help and support and unless we take some immediate steps to preserve and conserve, we all will be in serious trouble. We need to acknowledge the value of each and every living thing here on the planet and stop being so homeocentric."

She concluded, "Fear over the existence of other creatures that have been here for eons accomplishes nothing. Those living in the surrounding areas should educate themselves about living with wildlife and learn what actions they can take to protect their pets, children, and property while contributing to the conservation and health of the planet."


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