Description: The cougar is Canada's largest cat. It has short, reddish-brown to grey-brown fur with white on the underside and a black-tipped tail. A cougar's tail may be one third of its body length.
Weight: An adult male cougar weighs between 63 and 90 kg (140-200 lbs), and a female cougar, between 40 and 50 kg (90-120 lbs).
Diet: The cougar's primary prey is deer. It will also feed on wild sheep, elk, rabbits, beaver, raccoons, grouse, and occasionally livestock.
Habits: Cougars are most active at dusk and dawn. However, they will roam and hunt at any time of the day or night and in all seasons.
During late spring and summer, one to two-year-old cougars become independent of their mothers. While attempting to find a home range, these young cougars may roam widely in search of unoccupied territory. This is when cougars are most likely to conflict with humans.
Habitat: Cougars are found mainly in the Rocky Mountain range, but can live as far south as Texas and as far north as Alaska.
|The Danger of Cougars|
Cougars seem to be attracted to children, possibly because their high-pitched voices, small size, and erratic movements make it difficult for cougars to identify them as human and not prey.
Your yard and home:
Hiking or working in cougar country:
|Cougars are a vital part of our diverse wildlife. Seeing a cougar should be an exciting and rewarding experience, with both you and the cougar coming away unharmed. However, if you do experience a confrontation with a cougar or feel threatened by one, immediately inform the nearest authority.|
|Boy Saves Little Brother|
Six-year-old Bryce Forbes was heading inside his Gold River home when he spotted a cougar.
|A Surprise Attack|
A licensed tracker with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, seventy-five-year-old Mr. Hall was investigating a report of a problem cougar on January 24, 2000, when a cougar sprang on him from behind.
As it sank its teeth into his neck and began to shake him, Mr. Hall remembered advice he received years ago: when attacked by a dog, place your hands behind the bottom teeth, which renders the animal helpless. "I immediately placed my right hand over the lower jaw of the cougar. My thumb, forefinger and index finger were behind the canine teeth. Very easily, I pushed downward on the bottom canine teeth and released them from my neck and then I pushed upward, releasing the upper canine teeth as well."
Mr. Hall was attempting to squeeze the creature to death against his chest when the man who had originally sought his help shot the cougar. Mr. Hall required more than 100 stitches in his neck and cheek, but was most upset about the fact that the cat chewed his right hand so badly that it left him with a permanently rigid "Trudeau finger."
Incredibly, he adds, "when I lifted the tooth out of my head [and] looked into the face of the most beautiful animal in North America, momentarily I had a genuine sadness for this creature." Nevertheless, he believes that with four human deaths from cougar attacks in B.C. between 1998 and 2000, "this is just the beginning" and it is time for action.
"We have too much protection on predators of all types, including wolves and bears," Mr. Hall contends. "My family has lived in this valley 34 years. I took three cougars in 33 years and 10 in the last year. Predators are exploding and the deer diminishing. We have been protecting the predator--the varmint--and we're getting what we deserve."
After California banned sport hunting of cougars in 1990, cougar-human encounters skyrocketed. After only one deadly mountain lion attack in a century (another two died of rabies contracted from a cougar), in 1994 California suffered two fatal maulings less than nine months apart at opposite ends of the state.
After the first victim, 40-year-old Barbara Schoener, was mauled to death while out jogging, a fund was established for her three children. At the same time, a fund was established for the cougar's three kittens. It came as no surprise to many that the kitten fund garnered five times the donations that the human fund did.
"It's the Walt Disney syndrome," scoffs Mr. Hall. "People have all seen the little Lion King. But we've gone too far with our namby-pamby attitude. We've got to manage all God's creatures, the predators as well as the prey: bears, wolves, cougars, even the coyote population is clearly out of shape. Authorities are baffled as to why human attacks occur? It's simple. Cougars are killing machines; that's what they're designed to do. They enjoy killing for the sport of killing. In the past they were afraid of man, but that's diminishing."
|What To Do If.|
You meet a cougar:
If a cougar behaves aggressively:
|Cougars are beautiful but fierce creatures, and close contact should be avoided if at all possible.|
|Boy Attacked by Cougar|
Members of a 7-year-old boy's family drove off a mountain lion that attacked him on a trail on Flagstaff Mountain on April 15, 2006.
The boy, who was not identified, was walking last in a single file of eight family members and friends near the Crown Rock trailhead about 6 p.m. when his father turned and saw the lion on him.
The lion seized the child by the head and dragged him toward the woods, family members told Jason Blumen, a supervisor with Pridemark Paramedic Services, at Boulder Community Hospital.
They shouted and struck the lion with rocks and sticks, said Tyler Baskfield, a spokesman for the state Division of Wildlife. "They did everything possible to defend the boy from the lion," Baskfield said. "You've got to fight back with everything you have if you're attacked by a mountain lion."
Authorities said the boy had injuries consistent with a mountain lion attack including claw marks on his leg and puncture wounds on his jaw and head.
"The family showed unbelievable courage and bravery," said Blumen. "It was the family that ultimately scared the animal away, and I am 100 percent sure that they saved his life."
Blumen said the boy, who was later transferred from the Boulder hospital to Children's Hospital in Denver, recovered "remarkably well."
Dean Paschall, division manager of visitor environmental services for the city of Boulder, which owns the popular recreation area, said the boy suffered facial lacerations and bite marks on one leg.
"This is something that is extremely unusual," Paschall said. "The mountain lions here are very accustomed to human beings. They don't look at humans as their natural food source."