Who has been stalked by a cougar?


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Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 7, 2010 - 04:30pm PT
Just now reading the 'Why Aren't You' thread had me thinking about the time I was stalked by a cougar.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've spent many a night at Bar of America, Moodys and Cottonwoods in Truckee being stalked by cougars, but this one stands out.

I was at home, not working for a couple of days. The GF was out of town on a business trip and I was super bored.

I was living in Meyers, and the thought of going up to Truckee to see all of my friends just didn't sound like fun.

It's January, so climbing was out.
I pulled out my hot springs guide and picked one of the closest.

I can't remember the name, It's not Markleeville (though they do have a cougar problem there), but the one south of Gardnerville on the Carson river. The one off of Leviathian Mine Rd.

On the way down, it starts to snow. No big deal, the weather is calling for an inch or two.

I drive as far as I can, shoulder the pack, put a collar on the dog, and start hiking.

A couple of miles in, I hit a gate. No Trespassing, Private Ranch, it says.

I look around, nobody out here but me and the coyotes this time of year, so I throw my dog over the fence, clamber over and keep going.

By this time I'm following the benchland by the river and am getting optimistic about finding the springs, as it's getting dark and I never fail, ever.

I pass old corrals and barns, some with highways of coyote tracks leading into and out of them, some serene and buried in drifts on the lee side.

I keep walking. And walking.

Eventually it gets dark and I have to admit defeat for the first time ever. I'm so bummed, it's dumping snow and I can almost taste the sulfur coming from those damn springs.

I make camp, start a raging fire to keep warm and eat dinner, feeling kind of bummed that I didn't make it.

Sometime during the night, the dog (in my tent) starts growling at something.
I shrug it off as a nosy coyote, tell the dog to shut up, and go back to sleep.

Crack of dawn, the next day.
I get up, put on my shoes and go out to relieve myself.
Still clearing the cobwebs from my head, I notice tracks all the way around my tent.

Whatever, probably just that damn coyote.
I crawl back in, eat a powerbar, and break camp.

Holy crap! Those are big prints next to the tent!
Full on big cat tracks, the size of a fully spread out hand!

I put on my pack and start back to the car, finding a big stick to carry and unzipping my jacket (I heard holding an unzipped jacket open makes you look bigger, helping scare away cats).

For two miles along the river, we had the river on the left and a low dirt bluff on the right.
The entire time my dog had his hackles up and growled.

I never saw the kitty, but it was there. The tracks leading to my tent led back for almost a mile (I retraced my steps), so I know I was being followed.

Scared the crap outta' me!

Any other good close calls?
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Mar 7, 2010 - 04:45pm PT

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:25pm PT
No. Not that I know of.....however we had a couple cougar incidents in Flagstaff where I think two cougars were put down as a result.The game and fish held some information presentations to answer questions as to why these cougars were put down. The long of the short was they implied that if you are a reasonably active person, chances are you have had a cougar eye you up. O.K. ummm how about hiking in the dark 30 minutes to my elk stand at 4:00am day after day? They showed videos of a cougar sitting near a trail watching tons of folks walk feet away from it......Cougar no, Grizzly Bear Yes!. That was a bit unnerving as I actually never saw thwe bear. The fresh dumping snow just showed me the circling tracks of my predator. Cool stuff......

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:28pm PT
Many mountain lion encounters here, including Beatrix Kiddo's last month while skiing:

Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
Thanks Stich, saw that one but forgot about it.

I'm also thinking stalking more than sightings.
On my way to read that thread now...

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:31pm PT
Probably more than once but they didn't leave a note.
One did leave his tracks in the snow 20' from the tent so
he clearly followed us up in the morning.

A good friend of mine was hiking alone 35 years ago in
Olympic Nat Park. He hadn't seen anyone in days but
suddenly had that feeling that he wasn't alone any more.
He turned around and there was one 25' behind him staring at
him intently but not moving. He started shuffling sideways
down the trail while keeping his eyes on the kitty. Every
time he stopped to negotiate some roots or rocks in the trail
the cat would stop always maintaining about 25'. This went on
for about a half mile. Then Stewart had to take his eyes off
the cat for a couple of seconds and while he did it disappeared!
That was a loooong half a mile to walk!

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:32pm PT
i have, described below from another post


years ago, i was in zion with 5 friends doing the 'subway' canyoneering route. After a sprained ankle injury, the group (6 of us) were bushwacking up a hillside in the dark. We were trailed by a mtn lion for approx 45 minutes. Super unnerving--we were a big group, made a lot of noise but you could see the sillouette of the body and his eyes in the dark. While it was such a priviledge to see the mountain lion, it was also kind of terrifying to be stalked, feeling like you were prey!

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:40pm PT
Not stalked(by the 4-legged or 2-legged, a 2-legged one would have to be at least 80 to qualify), but had an encounter. I was descending a mountain road on my bike and had a blowout. While changing the tire, I noticed an animal casually striding across the road about 30 yds up. Thinking it was a dog, I hardly paid it much attention at first and went back to fixing the tire. Without looking back, I said to myself, whoa, that had no snout like a dog and had a long rope-like tail. I headed up the road towards it and it bounded off into the woods. When I got to the spot where it crossed the road I noticed that it would have to have come off a 10 ft high rock ledge to cross the road there, not something that other animals would have done.

This may not sound like much of a deal to anyone from cougar country, but this happened in Western Massachusetts where there aren't supposed to be any cougars (4-legged ones).

Gym climber
A dingy corner in your refrigerator
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:42pm PT
I always wanted to see one with my old dog. He liked the game 'where's the kitty'. I just wanted to see his reaction to 'where's the kitty?' while staring the coug down.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:44pm PT
Beatrix and her friend Lee were clearly stalked, and then the cougar made a tentative attack but broke off when they got aggressive towards it. The cougar went away, circled around, and made another run at them and again they had to yell and wave their skis at it. Pretty spooky.
Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
Stich, just read it. Crazy!


Hangin' by a thread and lookin' for my wings
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:51pm PT
Was trailrunning alone up in Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park in Big Sur. Early spring morning. Sunny and as beautiful as a day could be.

There'd been a sign at the entrance of the trail warning about big cats, and I took it with a grain of salt, just as I did the presence of poison oak (know it's there + avoid at all costs = you live).

A little over a mile into the trail...the very deserted trail...the hair on the nap of my neck stands up, all by itself. I'd slowed to a walk because of roots and saplings, and then this hyper-vigilence thing comes over me. Stopped. Looked around. Couldn't see anything carnivorous...but I knew I was being watched.

Now I knew from the Bear Incident in Alaska that running away from a carnivore is tantamount to flashing an OPEN DELI sign on your back and waiting for the carnivorous customers to take you down...so I stood there a minute wondering what to do.

Couldn't run any more, not with Simba on my trail...so that decided my course. Picked up a branch with leaves still on it (makes you look bigger), and started to retrace my steps...singing at the top of my lungs.

It could've been the branch.

It could've been the "advance instead of retreat" action.

Most likely it was the ear-shredding screeching which I loosely call singing that kept me safe. (Jimmy Buffett: Margaritaville, Son of a Son, and Tampico Trauma...life-saving!)

For half a mile my friendly but well-hidden cougar followed me along that trail...but even a cougar will abandon the hunt if the noise is painfull enough.

I knew exactly when it veered off for easier, quieter prey, too...half a mile from the parking lot...and figured my heart had gotten a marathon run's worth of exercise with that encounter; further running was over-kill. ;-)

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:58pm PT
I've heard that bending down, as to re-tie a shoe, will set off an instinct to attack by a cougar.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:58pm PT
Singing loud songs: now there's an idea. Fun, too!

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 7, 2010 - 05:59pm PT
Does 30 count when your 18?

Mountain climber
San Diego
Mar 7, 2010 - 06:00pm PT
What like being stalked by Demi Moore?


I couldn't resist.
Ricardo Cabeza

All Over.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 7, 2010 - 06:04pm PT
Funny you should mention that. I had forgotten all about this one.

I was out in the Ventanas a few years back with a buddy.

We hiked in about ten miles and camped by a creek.

A few hours later, we're hiking around and found a fawn about one hundred yards from our campsite. It was weak and apparently abandoned by it's mother

Needless to say, It freaked the hell out of us.

Soon, we start to hear TONS of rustling from the nearby woods.
We yelled for a while until we could tell that the animal had left, maintained a fire, and beat feet the next day.

In retrospect, I'm not sure what we should have done.


Hangin' by a thread and lookin' for my wings
Mar 7, 2010 - 06:23pm PT
Yeah, that's a tough one.

Just gotta trust your instincts...what you did was what you knew how to do, and it turned out OK for you guys. Sad about the fawn...but Nature works in ways we don't understand sometimes.

Now me...I saved a coot from a hawk because it all happened at my feet and I couldn't walk away. A weak, abandoned fawn...like I said, you did what you knew how to do. Don't look back on situations like that...it's a no-win game with your ego.
That's Papajoto to you son!!!!!

Social climber
Oatmeal Arizona
Mar 7, 2010 - 07:22pm PT
Twice, once while working up near Mt. Shasta, the second was my neighbor.


Mar 7, 2010 - 07:38pm PT
Twice that I know of. Once on a trail run in Thousand Oaks once when climbing at the Leap. Went down to Kyburz for a drink and a game of pool with my pard, Mark, and ran smack into a 40+yo hen party.


Mountain climber
Mar 7, 2010 - 09:27pm PT
About 30 years ago, when I lived on Balboa Island. Even convinced me to move in with her. Crazy times...

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 7, 2010 - 09:29pm PT
Me, Balch Camp.

There is a Taco resident with an amazing, terrifiying recent recent enconter involving five charges. I have encouraged her to share the tale but she hasn't, yet.
Sean Jones

Mar 7, 2010 - 09:43pm PT
2 years ago, before I left Yosemite and moved to Vermont.....I was working on the 1/2 Dome south face route. Had been for months. Every time I hiked in and out of there I carried a big knife as I always do. The knife is for one thing only. Cats !

All the hippies back home used to come down on me for that knife. Like if a cat came after me...I'm just gonna lay down and "trust in the universe" maybe I get eaten, maybe not. To hell with those hippies, I have 3 kids that I love very much and they need me. Cat comes, I'm bringing a rug home with me !

Anyway, on one of the hikes in, we came across a 1/2 eaten dear. Cats do this, they kill, eat all they can, then bury the rest for later. But this dear was in the rocky and steep Broadrick gully. So he must not have wanted to carry it off. At this point, I'm more than convinced that carrying the knife is beyond smart.

2 weeks after seeing this 1/2 eaten dear, I was hiking in there at 10:00 at night with Sarah Watson. A pitch black night. We were crossing the high grassy and swampy area that surrounds Lost Lake. About 35 min. from camp still. She was behind me when out of nowhere I just froze. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and she ran into me from behind.

She says "what's up ?" I said "we're being watched right now. Never saw a thing, never heard a twig snap. I just felt it and knew. I must have been convincing as she believed me. So we started thrashing through the grass screaming and yelling. Smashing sticks all the way through the forest on the other side and all the way to camp.

When we got to camp, we lit a fire right away and cracked a couple beers. We laid two big knives out next to us on this flat rock and began to relax.

Less than 10 minutes from the time we arrived in camp I heard this big dry stick just go POP ! This was no falling branch. This a was a big stick that just got stepped on.

Immediately I grabbed the knife, jumped to my feet and turned around. Sarah had hers just as fast and was right there with me. About 30 ft away, at the edge of the fire light, and right on the trail we just came in on was a huge cat. Just staring at us. F#cker just stalked us for 30 minutes and all the way from Lost Lake.

This was a rough moment for me and surely Sarah too. I was faced with a decision here. Stand there and stare, or get burly and go at this beast. At least make a move to scare it and make it think I would go after it.

Without really thinking too much I took a step forward, screamed at it, and raised my hands all over like a total nut bag. The cat didn't budge. As a matter of fact it looked really pissed and made this really loud hissing sound at me.

This was by far one of the scariest moments ever for me. Chills shot up my spine as I was faced with another choice.....Without thinking too much again I took multiple steps toward it and screamed REALLY loud this time
" Come on you mother f#cker " There was tons of fear in me no doubt. It was a horrible feeling realizing that this was really happening. But at the same time I was fully prepared to make all the first moves but luckily this second move made the cat turn.

Not turn and run. It just slowly turned it's body and slowly walked away. And never took it's eyes off of us. When it walked away, it didn't go off into the blackness either. It circled right at the edge of the fire light and finally went behind this big bush. Then we could hear it making it's way further down the hill.

It's needless to say that we had the worst night of sleep EVER up there that night ! Not sure if we slept at all.

So yes, I have been stalked by a cougar. I'm in Connecticut right now for some work and I have to say that it feels really good to know that when I go bouldering in a few days, there isn't any big cats here. No big cats and no rattle snakes. One time while boulering near El Portal, I got bit by a rattlesnake when reaching over the top. Nice to know they're not here either !

But when I leave here and go home to Boulder, Co. where I live now......the cats and snakes will be all over. And you hippies can bet your asses that I'll be packing a big knife everywhere I go !

Sean Jones.

Trad climber
carsoncity nv
Mar 8, 2010 - 12:34am PT
while hunting blue grouse in september 09, we became the hunted .


An Oil Field
Mar 8, 2010 - 12:37am PT
Me, in Dark Canyon south of Canyonlands NP. Freaky as hell.

Trad climber
carsoncity nv
Mar 8, 2010 - 12:43am PT
definetly a freaky feeling hearing the quiet snap of a twig, the soft rustle of those thick bushes your next to.. the hideous growling with a cat flying through the air towards you is a sure pants filler!!!
adam d

Mar 8, 2010 - 01:07am PT
I actually got followed by two cougars once in the Santa Ynez valley. I'd frequently seen tracks and scats but had never seen a cougar til that night. I was on a hill 10 minutes from my house on a moonless night, lying on my back on a fire road when I heard movement down the ridgeline a ways.

In those pre-LED days, I stood up, pulled out a Maglight and shined it that direction. I saw two sets of eyes but they were distant enough that I couldn't make out the silhouettes. They didn't seem like deer and I had an eerie feeling about it so I stood up, put on my backpack and made some loud, low noises with a maglight in one hand and a pocketknife in the other. I was still unsure but I walked away from them without turning my back and continued down the fireroad diagonally across the hill.

This whole area was covered in tall, dry, black mustard and as I walked about 100 meters away I shone the light down the hillside and saw the cougars maybe 30 meters away. One was low to the ground and looking right at me and took one step towards me then stopped. Again I made noises, tried to look big and clenched my two inadequate tools. I backed away and walked home on high alert but never saw them again.

I didn't see another cougar there until several years later when I rounded a corner on a late August afternoon trail run and was within 20 meters of one big cat that immediately sprinted away from me.
adam d

Mar 8, 2010 - 01:15am PT
Wow Sean, that's intense.

I've posted this here before, but I actually had one walk out into the boulders at the base of Drug Dome while my partner and I were on OZ late one afternoon. We were at the base of the amazing dihedral, the sun had just rounded the corner and hit us and my partner spotted a "bear" at the base. That's no bear dude!

The cat strolled out of the trees completely nonchalantly, sat down on a rock and looked up at us for minutes! After a bit it sauntered away into the trees again.

One of us remarked (can't remember who) something to the effect of "she's just trying to decide if you can send that crack or we're going to bail"

"or she's just gauging or progress to know when to pick up dinner on the descent!"

bad pic below. Folks have tried to claim that "no way, that's a bobcat. It's got spots and where's its tail? " Well...it's a crappy picture!


Big Wall climber
State of Insanity
Mar 8, 2010 - 01:25am PT
A friend of mine had to answer the call of nature, and while he was in the squatting position, taking care of business ... behind him, upslope, he heard a snaping twig sound above, he looked up and saw about a 180 lbs. cat hissing and snapping at him. He stood up ... made lots of noise, and tried to spray the bad kitty with personal mace (not bear spray) ... that didn't have enough range.

So he threw a rock at the kitty, and hit it; the catamount jumped straight up in the air and landed exactly back where it was, and groweled and hissed ... my friends hiking partners on the trail above figured it out ... and started banging their treking poles together ... it was enough distraction to send the cougar running.

They always like to ambush and they will go for the throat first!

A long way from where I started
Mar 8, 2010 - 01:25am PT
Anybody who spends time in the BC Coast Range has been stalked by cougars, whether they know it or not.

But I've been stalked by something a lot bigger and deadlier than a cougar. It was white, had been denned up on a glacier all winter, and was coming down with its cub for the first meal of the year.

It didn't get me, but it was so close. Thirty years later I can still see it moving in on us just as clearly as I could see it that morning.

El Portal
Mar 8, 2010 - 01:25am PT
Got followed while hiking alone in the middle of the day on the Sky Trail in Pt. Reyes.

I felt like I was being followed for about three miles... then in Sky Camp I saw the cat, maybe 50 feet up the hill on the side of the trail, crouched and watching me.

I remembered that you're supposed to put your arms up and talk to the cat... so the first words out of my mouth are "here kitty kitty kitty."

Then I realized what I was saying and corrected myself. "No, NOT here. Bad kitty."

I turned and walked back down the trail. Ran into other hikers about 20 minutes later... longest 20 minutes of my life.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Mar 8, 2010 - 02:37am PT
While walking down Greer Rd. back from the lower Picnic Area at Huddart Park in Woodside, I noticed a huge ML walking just ahead of me about 50 feet. He turned and looked back at me, growled, and kept walking. I stopped and told him, "Get the heck out of here cat!" He then jumped over a fence into someone's backyard right behind a bunch of garbage cans. I picked up a 10 foot branch, banged it on street sign, and kept walking with the stick in one hand. Passed the garbage cans and no sign of Mr. Kitty. But man that sucker was big and his stomach was dragging the pavement as he walked along. Made it back to my car near Woodside Store and drove back home.

However, out of curiosity and in hope of seeing just how big his tracks were, the next day I walked back up Greer Road earlier in the day when the sky was still bright. As I neared the site of my close encounter, I noticed that a green County Parks Ranger truck was parked at almost exactly the spot. When I got there I found out why. There was the carcass of a deer braced up against the fence that had been torn open to reveal the thoracic cavity. The kitty had been using the heart cavity like a bowl to lick out the innards. But the really horrifying thing was the look of sheer terror on the face of the dead deer. You could really tell from that look just how afraid it had been when it met its fate.

The Rangers told me that the cat had killed two nights back and was coming down periodically to feed on the carcass, as were coyotes and foxes. I guess I was fairly safe because at the time I encountered him the cat was full of venison. In any case, he sure was big, biggest tracks the rangers had ever seen. I would guess he was about 9' 6" and around 200 lbs. Sort of grey color to match the fog of the Coast Range I would guess.

Besides this big guy, I have encountered quite a few cats at Huddart Park quite close to human habitation. A mother couger and two cubs near the dumpster in the Lower Picnic Area and a 90 lb female in a tree near the Upper Picnic Area. The Rangers told me there are about 12 sightings a year in Huddart but they don't announce the fact to tourists. Never will forget that big guy though. Felt adreniline all week afterwards.

Mar 8, 2010 - 02:39am PT
Not stalked but a cougar avoided me. I don't know if this means I am more badass and scary than the rest of you humans, or I just smell bad. I was MTB'ing up a fire road in Henry Cowell state park next to Santa Cruz in broad daylight, and at the edge of my vision I saw something move off the trail ahead of me. Didn't suspect lion - could have been a deer. But I stopped about a hundred yards past the spot, for no particularly good reason, and just at that moment the cougar emerged from a clump of bushes on one side of the trail, crossed it, and disappeared into brush on the other side, giving me a spectacular view of it. It had clearly waited till I passed. Although it could have been waiting in the bushes to see if I smelled good as I passed, so maybe it was stalking me, after all.

I didn't think much of it when I first saw the motion out of the corner of my eye, or even immediately after seeing the cougar, since I don't know of any history of lion attacks in Henry Cowell, but in retrospect it's creepy. Really glad I didn't choose that spot to get a flat tire.
adam d

Mar 8, 2010 - 03:06am PT
So what, if anything, do you do differently since your kitty encounters? (after the initial phase when you were looking up in the branches everywhere) Has your behavior changed?

Mountain climber
hanging from a crimp and crying for my mama.
Mar 8, 2010 - 03:17am PT
I've had only two sightings and that is because of my dog showing me. Catching them stalking me is beyond my skill.

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Mar 8, 2010 - 08:54am PT
Klimmer yah beat me to it...

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Mar 8, 2010 - 09:24am PT
The neighbors told us that last Thursday they watched one run across the street and scramble over our fence into our backyard at 5:00AM.
We live one street down from the foothills here in SLC, so it's certainly possible.

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Mar 8, 2010 - 09:49am PT
I rode my motorcycle out to Tuolumne one night to do Matthes Crest and Cathedral solo and got a late start out of the parking lot around 9:30pm. It was my first time to the area and I lost the trail but kept the stream to my left figuring I'd take it up to the lake to spend the night.

I was getting tired around 11 and contemplating laying down in a nice flat spot when I came across a beautiful meadow. I figured I'd go through the meadow until I saw a nice spot to lay down. As I walked I felt a weird sensation and look up and right. As my headlamp scanned right I caught two glowing eyes staring at me from about 60 meters. I have come across bears before and figured it was a bear so I yelled at it. Nothing. I crouched down to get a rock to thrown, and as I descended while keeping my eyes on it the eyes went behind a rock. The thing didn't move but it had been peering just over the rock and as I crouched down it went fully behind it. I wound up and threw the rock figuring I'd hit a branch and get it to walk away.

The second my headlamp jerked to throw it the thing took off at 90 degrees way faster and smoother than any bear I've seen. I don't know if it was a cougar, but the size and the speed left little else in my imagination. I kept walking with a cobblestone in my right hand ready to try to bash its skull if it came at me. At least it gave me some psychological comfort. It was a long, cold, lonely night by the side of the lake.

Social climber
Mar 8, 2010 - 01:58pm PT
My boyfriend and I have stayed at a few different whistler accommodations, but the most memorable was the fly fishing trip where he got stalked by a cougar. I didn't go out with him as my belly boat pontoon had sprung a leak. He said he was packing up to come back when saw the cougar coming down the embankment. I guess it spotted him and started moving a little quicker. He says he grabbed his stuff, tossed it quickly in the back and hopped into his truck as fast as he could. He started the truck and revved the engine and it didn't even faze the cougar. He said when he drove by the thing it just looked at him and licked it's lips ...no joke! He was terrified!

Big Wall climber
Kalispell, Montanagonia
Mar 8, 2010 - 02:08pm PT
Happens to my wife and I several times a summer, and that is just the times we are aware of. Friday, I got followed and checked out by the largest wolf I have seen to date. First view of him, was a mile and a half out, steep and alpine. He sat there for 10 minutes checking us out. Last view was about two miles down the ridge, with him closer than 300 yards. Ice axe was our only protection.


Sport climber
Mar 8, 2010 - 06:34pm PT
Was recently emailed this photo. Yikes!
Credit: pdx_climber

just south of Maupin, OR.

Big Wall climber
I used to be hard
Mar 9, 2010 - 01:15pm PT
Back in 1985, I was 19 and legal drinking age in Minnesota. Was stalked by a relentless cougar in a small bar in International Falls. She wouldn't take no for an answer. I eventually had to flee around the pool table and out the door. My friends gave me grief over that drunk, ass-grabby, toothless Indian squaw for years. :)

la la land
Mar 9, 2010 - 01:58pm PT
You should be stoked if you see one! Seeing wild cats in the wild is the making for a wonderful day. Don't see why people think it's so scary to see a cougar. Just take the time to enjoy the experience. I'm more worried of a car crash to and from the cougar spotting location.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Mar 9, 2010 - 02:05pm PT
I saw a Canadian Lynx (not a bobcat, I know the difference) up in the Ralston Buttes area between Golden and Boulder. We were about 20 yds apart, just stared each other down for about 5 min. and then it bounded off. Weird though, bounding and running through brush and I couldn't hear a single sound, the ultimate stalker.

la la land
Mar 9, 2010 - 02:11pm PT
That is really rare, I would be way stoked to see a lynx. I saw a bobcat a couple weeks ago haven't seen a cougar in a while.

Mar 9, 2010 - 02:18pm PT
Five travelling in a pack. That is supposed to be unheard of. Animals at the top of the food chain hunt solo.

Do you suppose cougars are adapting to a new kind of more dangerous prey.

We may well be at a transition point.

Wake up!
Anne Yeagle

Mar 9, 2010 - 03:33pm PT
It's been about 3 weeks now.

I left the house in the dark and decided to do my usual run up City Creek Canyon here in Utah. It is small canyon that is blocked off to cars years round. I thought I would run up the road instead of the trail on the side since it was still rather dark. I saw a few people out in the neighborhood, but no one was past the gate to the canyon.
I was about 2/3 mile up when I heard some rustling in front of me on the hillside. I am accustomed to seeing deer early in the morning so I said my usual "good morning, sorry for disturbing you"---very sweetly I might say.

I saw one figure run up the hill (this is all about 50 feet from me at this point), but the other figure stays there. I run past (now 15 feet away). I notice something kind of weird (you must realize that it is just barely getting light) and turn around just in time to see a cougar come running (not full speed, I guess jogging) towards me. Welllllllll.

I stop and put my arms up above my head. It keeps coming towards me so I start yelling. I think, "this is going to hurt". It stops, turns around, howls and walks back a few steps. It then turns towards me again and howls louder and then starts running at me again. So I start yelling at it too louder. (I have never put my arms down). this time it doesn't feel like it's going to stop, so for whatever reason, I decide to step forward aggressively and really make a hellish sound. It stops, and it seems pissed and is growling. This goes on 3 more times and I keep stepping towards it and yelling louder when it gets close. Each time I think it is going to leap right on me because it is only 10 feet away. It finally turns around and walks slowly away.

So there I was, and I wanted to go down, but didn't want to go past the place where the cougar was and I didn't know where the other one was. So I crossed the creek because I thought it wouldn't like the water, but soon realized it could easily jump across and I didn't like groveling in the snow. so I went back and started heading up the road, quietly talking to myself to try and find comfort because I knew that they might be stalking me. I knew I shouldn't let my guard down yet.finally a water plant worker came driving down the road and I literally stepped in front of his car so he would stop. I had him take me to the gate and ran home. i had so much adrenalin that I thought it would help. Besides, he was kind of laughing at me --silly little lady thought she saw a big kitty-- kind of guy and I wanted to get away from him.

when I got home I called a friend at work who gave me the police and wild life people numbers. I was worried the next person might not be so lucky.

(it was after the phone calls that I cried).

They ended up tracking the cat until 11 oclock that night and about 12 miles away. They were not going to hurt it, I was very clear when I talked to them that I felt I had invaded its home and they said they would just try to encourage it to go further up.

I had sore throat for days. It was a rather difficult to teach my 3 hour class that morning as one can imagine. But it was good to do something.

they now have signs at the entrance that say cougar siting. not quite accurate.

I've had several nightmares and am a bit jumpy out running--in full light.:)

I have been doing early morning runs up that canyon for over 20 years and have always wanted to see a cougar because I heard they have dens up high.
I'm over it.
corniss chopper

Mountain climber
san jose, ca
Mar 9, 2010 - 07:04pm PT
Anne - Wow. Very glad you were not breakfast for the cougar.

Looking off our balcony down towards the creek, 2 weeks ago, a
beautifully colored Bobcat snaked its way through the brush not
30 feet away.
It was thin. No winter coat at all.
The backs of its ears had neat stripes on them.
He paused and looked up at me with the those weird Bobcat eyes.
Them it zoomed away.

A long way from where I started
Mar 9, 2010 - 07:28pm PT
I would be way stoked to see a lynx

I've seen one near Whistler, but the best sighting I know was by Galen Rowell. He was in Alaska, and saw a lynx quite close. It seemed to be ignoring him, and he moved in closer and had time to get his camera out and get a really good shot. No telephoto, just a real lynx barely ten feet away.

He said he couldn't figure out what was going on until he looked where the lynx was looking and saw a rabbit. He said it was a weird three-way thing with him looking at the lynx, the lynx looking at the rabbit and the rabbit looking at him. He eventually figured out that the lynx knew exactly what was going on -- that it was letting him get close because he was distracting the rabbit.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 9, 2010 - 08:00pm PT
Yow, Anne! That was way more involved then I heard the first time around!
Thanks for sharing that.

Trad climber
Mar 9, 2010 - 08:07pm PT
man there are some terrifying encounters some of you have had!

I can't imagine how scary it must feel to yell/shout/wave your arms/even approach the mtn. lion, only to have the mtn. lion not move away at all...and hold it's ground. Talk about being aggressive!

ann, glad you are safe! maybe it's time to find a running partner?

Trad climber
san diego
Mar 9, 2010 - 08:46pm PT

Awesome photo!

Looks like the big cat in the middle made eye contact with the photographer.

I was once hiking up to the Wheeler Crest and crossed paths with a Mt. Lion coming down a deer path. We locked eye's and just peered at each other for what seemed like thirty seconds, but I am sure it was much less. Finally I glanced away for a fraction of a second and it was gone. I skirted the tree line and stayed out in the open, avoiding any sudden attack.

I once had a similar encounter with a deer in the same area, and it also became transfixed on my eyes and vanished when I momentarily diverted my eyes.


Trad climber
Lander, WY
Mar 11, 2010 - 10:35am PT
My Father talks about when they were kids in Branscomb, CA in the 1930s (pretty tough time). He and his older brother would go out to hunt for 2-3 days at a time. Several times they had a cougar stalking them. They had to sleep up in a tree at night while the damned thing pawed around the base, growling. He's a pretty astute outdoorsman in the best trad sense. I mean, that guy can start a fire in water. Anyway, he says he has a fifth sense about when mountain lions are nearby. There's one that roams in and out around their house in Placerville and he always seems to know when it's around and sure enough, go looking around and you can find sign.

Big Wall climber
Mar 11, 2010 - 11:22am PT
When I was 21 I had a 40 year old cougar take me. I still have the scars.

em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
Mar 11, 2010 - 11:49am PT
Strength, courage, beauty, intelligence, and HUGE cajones. Anne, you're one awesome lady. I'm inspired by how you took action to save yourself, stepped toward the danger, and stayed strong. And that you can still have the perspective that you were treading in the cougar's territory.

So very, very glad you're here to tell us the story.


PS, "bringmedeath"

You should be stoked if you see one! Seeing wild cats in the wild is the making for a wonderful day. Don't see why people think it's so scary to see a cougar. Just take the time to enjoy the experience.

You might want to re-read out loud what Anne said her first thought was: "This is going to hurt." Then imagine yourself alone in the dark (remember, you're small and slender, you have no protective clothing or weapon and you weigh about 92 lbs soaking wet) and try saying it this way (as a mutual friend first relayed the event right after it happened): "This is REALLY gonna hurt!" Maybe that would help you imagine why it's so scary??

Edit later: oops bringmedeath, I need to apologize for suggesting you were insensitive to Anne's story. Checking back, I see your post preceded Anne's, so was not in any way trivializing it.
"Seeing" a wild cat from a safe distance is sure lots different than "seeing" one about to attack you.

Boulder climber
Mar 11, 2010 - 11:19pm PT
yeah, thinking about it, and actually having it happen are so far apart,

this is what a friend told me the other day>

"Wear a hat with eyes on the back like they do for the Tigers in India. They
prefer to ambush from behind and dislocate your head with their back
feet or bite your spinal cord so if they think you are facing them it
might deter them. Maybe. Don't run. There was a cat stalking a Mt
Biker on the American River a few years ago--fast movement incites
they prey reflex. If they follow you or are seen at all, it's a bad
sign. They should never be seen so if they are, it means they have
lost their fear of humans and probably will evolve to attack. "

Tucson, AZ
Mar 11, 2010 - 11:22pm PT
I'm still waiting. It seems only the twenty-something hotties hit on my these days.

Boulder climber
Mar 12, 2010 - 12:04am PT
yikes, check this action>

"13 December. A 25-year-old water quality specialist, Susanne Groves, was attacked and mauled by a cougar on the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation (near Cortez, Colorado). Standing in the shallows down river from the Grass River Bridge, she was taking water samples from the Mancos River. At about 10:30 a.m., (the RMN reported it was 1:30 p.m.) she heard something moving on the bank above. It was awhile before she looked up and saw a lion standing on top of the river's north bank. When they made eye contact, it came down the embankment toward her. Groves stayed in the water thinking the cat was just curious and would leave. As a precaution, perhaps, she began moving from her position nearer to the north bank back toward the south bank where her vehicle was parked.

Instead of leaving, the cat entered the foot deep water without hesitation. Groves now angled across the river toward the north bank, keeping her eyes fixed on the lions as it stared intently back. She yelled and threw water and ice chunks at it. Nothing seemed to deter the cougar which continued to parallel her path, always easing closer. The lion never showed its teeth, nor did it assume any threatening pose such as crouching. The pair went back and forth across the river several times. Then Groves slipped on some rocks and lost her balance. When she fell, the cougar reared up to attack. Groves stated she thought the animal was going for her neck but since she was falling, its jaws instead closed on the back of her head. She was (held) under water for perhaps 10 seconds. Then she must have broken free, as she jumped up from the water and began to run for the south bank.

Once at the bank, she may have slipped, as the next thing she remembered was being on her back and shoving her arm in front of her face in a defensive move. The lion bit down on her arm, but somehow Groves managed to get on top of the lion, her arm still in the animal's mouth. She no longer cared. She shoved her arm as far back in the cat's throat as she could, effectively pinning the animal down. She reached for the forceps (hemostats) dangling in reach from her fishing jacket and stabbed the lion in the eye. She reported her intent was to kill it by reaching the brain.

The lion only responded by growling and biting her arm even harder and by continuing its struggle to get out from under her. This battle continued about 5 minutes until the lion finally released her arm as Groves continued stabbing it. Groves continued to keep the animal pinned beneath her for another 5 minutes or so, as she did not want to give it the strength from gaining firm footing. The lion finally squirmed free, and Groves sprang to her feet to face her attacker. The lion just stood, still staring, so Groves lunged at it to test what the lion would do. It remained standing still, so Groves began backing downstream toward her truck again. About 20 yards away, the bank was less steep and she climbed it and then followed a cow path toward her truck.

Groves managed to get back to her truck and drive for help. Her injuries included five puncture wounds in her head and cuts and scratches on her arms and legs. She was treated at Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez and released the same day. Federal Animal Damage Control officers got permission from Ute tribal officals and then used dogs to quickly track and kill the lion. It appeared to be an old female, weighing only 63 pounds - about half the weight for a healthy adult female. Its teeth were worn, so it may have been unable to catch enough food.

Source: (Gary Gerhardt; Rocky Mountain News; 12/15/94) (Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Pages 135-136)"

holy crapola>

"28 April. At 2:00 p.m. experienced hiker and a Lakewood State Park ranger, Andy Peterson, 24, from Littleton, Colorado, was attacked in Roxborough State Park, Colorado, while hiking alone on the Carpenter Peak Trail 2 to 3 miles west of the visitor center. Decending the trail, the 5' 6", 130 pound hiker came upon a lion which may have been young, approximately 80 pounds, and female. It was chewing on a stick. At first he couldn't believe his luck. Then fear overtook his excitement. Peterson's legs shook as he eased quietly backwards, up the trail. He reached for the Swiss Army knife he always carried in his fanny pack and glanced at it. He was doubtful its two inch blade was much of a defense. In the brief time he looked away from the lion to size up his knife, the lion had begun slowly advancing, now with his eyes on Peterson's. (Click photo above to enlarge)

He made himself look as big and menacing as possible. He shouted. He waved his arms and jumped up and down. Instead of retreating as he expected, instantly, the cat was directly in front of him, seeming to size him up before attacking. It stared at him, its ears up and alert. So Peterson backed up. The lion advanced. Peterson kept shouting. The cat bared its teeth, squinted, and flared its nostrils. Then the ears flattened. The lion let out a growl and lept, paws extended. It slammed into his chest, causing them to tumble down the trail, ending up side by side in a rolled up mass of fur, claws, and blood. His blood! Peterson jumped up, and the lion missed him on a second leap. He careened down the path this time, trying to fend off the cat with the shirt that had been tied around his waist.

When the lion suddenly stopped, Peterson grasped his pack and swung it at the lion, missing it repeatedly as the lion easily dodged his swing. Once again he started backpedaling down the trail with the cougar staying inches away, evidently toying with him. When his escape path dropped down steeply through a series of boulder steps, he hurtled down, skipping over the boulders. The cougar launched into the air and tore into him just as he hit the ground. For a second time they rolled together, down the trail. When they landed, Peterson was on his knees, over the lion that was on its back. His head was in the lion's mouth, a large tooth an inch in front of his left eye. The lion's teeth were sunk into the top of his skull. Its jaws loosened slightly, then bit down a second time, searching for a firmer hold. Blood cascaded down over his face.

With his knife still in hand, he slashed at different angles, aiming at the lion's throat, but because of the lion's thick fur and skin, he failed to draw blood. Raising the knife high over the animal's head, he plunged it into the back of its neck. Once. Twice. Nothing, not even a whimper as the lion clawed his face. With an effort he was able to see that the knife's blade had closed on his index finger, cutting halfway through. Reaching over the cat's head with his other arm, he managed to pry the knife open, just as he also realized that his right hand was touching the cougar's right eye. With all the desperate force he could muster, he plunged his thumb into its eye, simultaneously sinking the knife into the cat's skull with his left hand. The lion shrieked, releasing its hold on his head and pulling its claws from his neck. The lion jumped backwards.

Peterson hurled a rock the size of a volley ball at the lion's side. Then, backing down the trail, out of sight from the lion, he turned and ran. Peterson was losing blood fast and was still almost three miles from the trailhead. Halfway down, where the trail went through a thick stand of ponderosa pine trees, in full stride, he glanced over his shoulder and believed he saw the lion eyeing him from a distant tree! Feeling futile and panicked, he managed to call on his legs to drive him even faster, and again he glanced over his shoulder. This time he saw a "divine vision" instead of the lion, and felt saved. He continued racing down the trail where he encountered a group of hikers. After 30 minutes with a mountain lion and 2½ miles at a dead run, his body shut down. When he heard the thunder of an approaching rescue chopper he knew his nightmare was over.

Jim Jones, an area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, was quoted in the newspaper as saying that the lion probably wasn't driven away by the hiker's action, but instead "just lost interest", since lions are used to receiving wounds from their prey. Later he was quoted in a magazine as saying that mountain lions have been known to retreat from prey that fight back.

The lion was baited and hunted but was never found. The residents in the very nearby and "upscale" Roxborough Park suburb outspokenly rooted for the lion, as they didn't want even an attacking lion shot. About 9 months later in Lakewood, Colorado, (an established Denver suburb) about 15 miles away from where Peterson was attacked, artist Joe Beckner spotted a mountain lion in the ponderosa pine beside his barbecue grill. He called 911 only after he carefully studied the lion since he wanted to capture it in a watercolor later. It was missing its right eye. The police tranquilized and moved it.

Hospitalized in fair and stable condition, Peterson received several dozen stitches to his face, neck, upper chest, both shoulders, and right leg. He set a record at Swedish Hospital in Englewood, Colorado by requiring 70 staples to close his head wounds. The encounter with the mountain lion has divided Peterson's life into pre- and post-attack. He used to be an avid solo hiker; now, he rarely hikes, and never alone. Even when walking to his car at night from a shopping mall or supermarket, Peterson looks over his shoulder. He has nightmares. But because of his "vision" while losing blood and running toward safety, Peterson also perceives a divine purpose behind his attack. Not formerly a practicing Christian, he was babtized 2.5 months after the attack. The near-death experience prompted him to reconcile with his father and led him to change careers. Peterson had been studying for a degree in park management; now he is an inspirational speaker - bringing the story of his attack and his vision to churches and youth groups. On May 11, 1999, he appeared on Oprah. Sources: (Denver Post; 05/01/98, B-01; 05/06/98, B-03) (Andy Peterson's Own Online Account; 1998) (The Boston Globe Magazine; Wild in the suburbs; By David Baron; 08/22/1999) (New Man Magazine Online; Attacked!; by By Rhonda Sholar; date unknown) (Douglas County News-Press; Man survives attack by mountain lion; By Mike Colias; 05/06/1998)


Boulder climber
Mar 12, 2010 - 12:37am PT
ok, this seems like the most logical advice on the topic>

" I am a game ranger from Africa and have spent many years tracking large game and guiding guests on foot through the African wilderness. I have worked also one-on-one rehabilitating a puma (cougar) in Bolivia.

I am now in San Francisco and looking forward to enjoying your splendid trails in the Bay Area.

That these large predators still exist in this area says a lot for the state of the natural system and that is a tremendous compliment to you Bay Area residents for living in harmony and respect with your nature.

I will just add a little to the post and hope it might be useful to those that are reading it. The first thing to remember is that we are not natural prey to these animals. All the big cats regard us as the formidable predator that we are. It is in the interests of their survival to avoid us (which is why you don't see them often). Big cat attacks occur almost exclusively in situations where the cat feels it has to fight to defend itself, or its own. Exceptions to that can occur if an animal is starving and desperate, usually by way of debilitating injury (can't catch its normal prey and therefore starts to take greater risks with what it can get close to). The only time I have witnessed this first hand after years of walking and driving in the African wilderness, was a lioness with three legs (had been caught in a snare, lost a leg (probably from eventually gnawing it off to escape the snare)). She subsequently battled to catch prey and started to spend time closer and closer to human areas as she got more and more emaciated. (Interestingly I actually watched her, on three legs, rush and kill a bush-pig). Man eaters are another story which I won't go into with this post, but it is a very rare situation.

If you come across a potentially threatening animal, like a previous poster mentioned, never run. The mind-set to remember is that this animal sees you as a threat, not prey. If it seems intent on engaging with you, hissing and snarling, understand that more than likely it feels trapped, unable to escape because it is cornered, or perhaps because it is injured and therefore insecure about its ability to flee from you (and jumpy just as we are when we are sick or vulnerable). You might also be standing in the direct line to its cubs who may be close by. Either way it is looking for escape or reprise to the situation and is summing up whether there is any other option other than engaging with you. It would prefer not to get into a fight with you as it has the utmost respect for your abilities as the top predator.

Do not try to chase it off by intimidating it (throwing stones or mock rushing), as this attack on the animal will more than likely set off its offensive defence, against which you have little chance. Let it know that you are the proud predator that you are by standing tall. Cowering or running will give it an easy solution to removing the threat. Communication with an animal, just like with humans, is a lot about body language, so stand for what you mean, you mean no harm, but you are not an easy target. It is not much different than getting into an energised conflict with a human. You are trying to read what the other is about. Take note of the situation - is it cornered up against rocks, trees, a river? Can you gradually edge in a direction that will give it room to escape? How can you reduce your threat on it without making yourself an easy target? Your movements may unsettle it so don't make starling movements, and if it does become unsettled, stay static for a moment, let it calm down before edging again.

Many will say that it is all well and good to read this theory, but a different story when you are facing an animal. But like any intimidating situation that we must face, an enormous strength and presence of mind becomes available to us – especially when our instinct to survive kicks in. You cannot predict that strength before you are asked to face a situation. But, if you can compliment the strength with an understanding of the situation, you chances of avoiding an attack are great. The danger is us insisting on being in the environment and staying oblivious or uneducated in it.

This was a key part of our training in the African bush. Early on in our training we were sent out alone without a riffle or any weapons to walk 250km’s (11days worth) of roads, fully aware of the presence and concentration of lions, leopards, wild dog, hyaena, elephants, buffalo and rhino, as smaller but infamous creatures like the honey-badgers. The idea was to open our eyes very wide, and notice how each of the creatures responds to the presence of a human. You learn a lot when you senses are that awake. In a nutshell, the lesson from that experience was every wild, unhabituated creature avoids the human being and will run from you given the chance.

In the reserves that I have worked in, threatening situations arise fairly often. We are often on foot intentionally tracking cats (or other potentially dangerous game) so that the vehicles with guests can drive in to view the animal. Not once has a riffle been fired or needed to be fired. Our attitude toward the riffle is that it is the absolute last resort, and by viewing it as such and retaining the presence of mind that in the situation the human is threatening the animal, I have never witnessed a riffle fired, or lost a college to an animal. I have however been in many situations and worked in partnership with an experienced Shangaan tracker who successfully conducted himself through over an hour of continual charges by a circle of eleven lions. Still no shot fired and no lives lost.

As for situations where animals have rushed at people before the animal was seen, in most circumstances this would occur where the person has unknowingly threatened a cornered/injured animal to a point that it feels it must engage to survive. The best defence against that is prevention - be aware of your surroundings.

Try to bear in mind how unlikely an event it is to ever even see one of these animals, let alone get into an encounter.

It is a privilege to be asked to be aware in the presence of nature, it opens our eyes and asks us to be in our surroundings with all our senses, and to know where we are. These animals exist in nature, your safety is more about understanding them than fearing them. And as a last note (because this post has run on far more than I intended), even with these highly remote possibilities, you are still far safer being in these wilderness areas than not being in them. The risks of our everyday life, on roads and around people are far greater, many times over.

Know the environments that you enter, that is the privilege of being in them. "
adam d

Mar 12, 2010 - 01:11am PT
Good passage there, and good advice. Do you have a reference for it you could pass on?

Trad climber
Mental Physics........
Mar 12, 2010 - 01:40am PT
> Cougar predation key to ecosystem health


> CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The general disappearance of cougars from a portion of Zion National Park in the past 70 years has allowed deer populations to dramatically increase, leading to severe ecological damage, loss of cottonwood trees, eroding streambanks, and declining biodiversity.
> This "trophic cascade" of environmental degradation, all linked to the decline of a major predator, has been shown in a new study to affect a broad range of terrestrial and aquatic species, according to scientists from Oregon State University.
> The research was just published in the journal Biological Conservation - and, like recent studies outlining similar ecological ripple effects following the disappearance of wolves in the American West - may cause land managers to reconsider the importance of predatory species in how ecosystems function.
> The findings are consistent, researchers say, with predictions made more than half a century ago by the famed naturalist Aldo Leopold, often considered the father of wildlife ecology.
> "When park development caused cougar to begin leaving Zion Canyon in the 1930s, it allowed much higher levels of deer browsing," said Robert Beschta, an OSU professor emeritus of forest hydrology. "That set in motion a long cascade of changes that resulted in the loss of most cottonwoods along the streambanks and heavy bank erosion."
> "But the end result isn't just loss of trees," he said. "It's the decline or disappearance of shrubs, wetland plants, amphibians, lizards, wildflowers, and even butterflies."
> Until recently, ecologists had a poor understanding of how the loss of an important predator, such as wolves or cougar, could affect such a broad range of other plant and animal species. But the evidence is now accumulating that primary predators not only have direct effects in influencing the population sizes of native grazing animals such as deer and elk - they also have indirect effects in changing their foraging behavior, in what has been called "the ecology of fear."
> That phenomenon, the scientists say, has been shown as vividly in Zion National Park as any other location they have ever studied.
> In Zion Canyon, which since the early 1900s has been a popular tourist attraction, cougars are virtually absent, mostly just scared off by the huge influx of human visitors. With their natural enemy gone, growing and ravenous deer populations ate young cottonwood trees almost as quickly as they sprouted, robbing streambanks of shade and erosion protection.
> As a result, floodplains began to erode away. Other types of vegetation and the animal species dependent on them suffered. And unless something is done, cottonwoods in Zion Canyon may ultimately disappear in areas accessible to deer, the researchers said.
> By contrast, a nearby roadless watershed has similar native ecology but is sufficiently remote that it still has an intact cougar population and far fewer mule deer. In contrast to Zion Canyon, streambanks in this watershed have nearly 50 times more young cottonwood trees as well as thriving populations of flowers, lizards, butterflies, and several species of water-loving plants that help stabilize stream banks, provide food-web support, and protect floodplains for use by many other animal species.
> "The documentation of species abundance that we have in this study is very compelling," said William Ripple, a professor in the OSU Department of Forest Resources and lead author on the study. Researchers did a systematic survey of channel dimensions, streambank condition, vegetation and species presence along each study site.
> "These two canyons, almost side by side, have a similar climate and their ecosystems should be quite similar," Ripple said. "But instead they are very different, and we hypothesize that the long-term lack of cottonwood recruitment associated with stream-side areas in Zion Canyon indicates the effects of low cougar and high deer densities over many decades.
> "It's a great research setting and a great opportunity to assess the potential importance of a key predator," he said. "We hope to conduct additional research in Zion National Park to further explore the findings of this initial study."
> It's important to remember, the researchers said, that the ultimate driver behind all of these changes is humans - in the case of Zion Canyon, simply by their presence. That canyon receives nearly three million human visitors a year, the adjacent North Creek a stray handful of hikers. Cougars in Zion Canyon were not intentionally killed or removed, they just left due to the increased presence of humans.
> As findings such as this - the way cougars affect deer and wolves affect elk - continue to mount, land managers may have to acknowledge the potentially enormous impact of these grazing animals on other ecosystem processes, scientists say. This could open the way to new management options once the role of herbivory by deer, elk, or other grazing animals is more fully understood.
> In systems with wild ungulates, the sustainability of riparian habitats and biodiversity may require both predation on these herbivores as well as the fear of predation to further affect their behavior, the researchers concluded.
> Ripple and Beschta considered other factors that may have played a role in loss of cottonwood trees in Zion Canyon, such as climate fluctuations or human interventions to stream channels, but concluded that those impacts could not have caused the enormous loss of trees and associated impacts to other biota that were found in the canyon.
> The findings of this study may be relevant to other ecosystems in the U.S. and around the world where key predators have been removed, the researchers said, and high populations of native herbivores such as deer or elk - or domestic grazers such as cattle or sheep - affect native biodiversity.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

. . . not !
Mar 12, 2010 - 01:45am PT
"Cougar" is one of those new viral words .

Mar 12, 2010 - 02:47am PT
I don't want to hear any stories about cougars and viruses.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jun 10, 2012 - 11:39pm PT
Neighborhood Watch in the Santa Cruz Mountains:

Hi guys,

Gayle asked me to pass on that she saw a mountain lion early
this morning. If you let your pets outside remember,
predators are most active within 2 hours of dawn and dusk, and that
mountain lions are less likely to attack than coyotes and we've got plenty
of them around.

( )


Ice climber
mercenario de merced
Jun 11, 2012 - 12:22am PT
Wow Anne that was an amazing encounter. If I counted correctly the cougar approached you six times without attacking and was close enough that it could have easily killed you. So many unanswerable questions. Was it defending something rather than attacking? We encountered one here in the San Diego mountains, nothing like yours.

I'll pass this on the the folks who are attempting to document all mountain lion "encounters' in the U.S.

Stay safe. Other than avoiding their territory, bear spray appears to be the safest form of preventing attacks.


Truckee, CA
Jun 11, 2012 - 04:08am PT
Got followed by a kitty in 1994 in Tuolumne. I was going down from Snow Flat by May Lake from volunteer camp, starting down the snow creek trail at sunset. In my infinite stupidity, I was going to drag my mtn bike down there. I started riding down, and it quickly turned too soft to ride and was hike a biking way earlier than I thought I would have to.

I decide to bag the bike, as it was clear I was going to carry it all the way down to the valley. So I turned round and started motoring back up to dump it at snow flat and burn back down the trail. About 30 paces back up the trail were large kitty prints on top of mine. These were minutes old footprints.

So after my butthole grabbed my underwear, I hiked the hell out of there fast holding my bike as if I might try to stuff it in his mouth if one attacked. Never saw kitty, but the prints were scary as sh#t.

Of course I hiked right back down after without my bike but ran ass thru the first part of snow creek towards the switchbacks, and again thru the part as it comes in towards mirror lake, where the kitty signs are. I was puckered. But I made it to the gf's in curry village for sexytime. Ahh to be young and stupid again.


Gym climber
Wild Omar, CA
Jun 11, 2012 - 09:48am PT
In March, a couple of us took a hike up to Sitton Peak in the Santn Ana Mountains (SoCal). Definitely not a very impsosing peak but it offers great views and a decent 9.5mile/2500 foot gain workout. On the way back, we came to the top of an incline and ~200yds ahead, we saw a mountain lion cruising down the trail walking the same direction as us. We continued to follow it for about a 100 yards until it heard us. He/She turned around and eyed us for about 10 seconds and then sprang about 8 feet in the air and disappeared in the bushes. Because there have been dozens of sightings (and several attacks) over the years, it wasn't a surprise but still, it was my first "wild" encounter with one. Pretty cool stuff.

Trad climber
Green Mountains, Vermont
Jun 11, 2012 - 10:12am PT
15 years ago a friend and I were elk hunting up near Estes Park, Colorado. We were scouting a long wooded ridge line to see if elk had been moving through the area. We were out at first light and split up, me moving below the ridge line and my friend going up the spine.

We'd had a half an inch of snow the night prior so conditions were ideal for tracking. We scouted for a few hours not seeing any sign that elk were moving through the area. I made a circuit clear around the ridge and started up the spine to connect with my buddy. I'm following his tracks when about halfway up the ridge I find mountain lion tracks on top of his, clearly fresh and clearly tracking him.

I had seen plenty of cats over the years from the car or at the house but this was the first time that there was a real chance of engagement. Up until that point big cats were a cool idea but having grown up in the East I don't think I ever seriously contemplated the reality of interacting with them in the wild.

I was carrying my brush gun, a Marlin lever action .35 carbine and had a .44 on my hip. I was VERY happy to have them and immediately started paying a lot more attention to my surroundings. At the very least I had the tracks in front of me. It was really my friend that I was worried about, knowing that he was very likely coming back up the ridge line and the lion was heading his direction.

We never did see the cat. I saw where his tracks diverged from my friends shortly before I connected with my partner. We contemplated tracking the cat for all of two seconds and then pretty quickly exited the area our hackles up, knowing that he was very likely watching us.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Social climber
Retired in Appalachia
Jun 11, 2012 - 10:36am PT
Who has been stalked by a cougar?

When I was in my 20s I loved getting stalked by cougars. My favorite cougar was Janice. She was my sugar-mama, 10 years older than me.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 11, 2012 - 11:31am PT
Gee, Rat, I was stalked by a pack of 'em when I entered the wilderness of
the North Is. NAS Officers' Club as a naive middie. It was initially
terrifying but I got used to it. The free drinks helped.

two miles from Eldorado
Jun 11, 2012 - 04:48pm PT
Not stalked, but seeing this feline was plenty.
Flatiron cat
Flatiron cat
Credit: SicMic

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Jun 11, 2012 - 05:00pm PT
There's a cougar living above me who tried to lure me into her snare with a strong cocktail of gin...I was able to polish off the cocktail and escape without any claw marks...

Jun 11, 2012 - 05:30pm PT
While camped up at this remote spot on the very southern part of the Sierra called Lamont Pinnacles, I awoke to find fresh mountain lion tracks around my sleeping bag and everyone else's as well. Then it occurred to most of us that in our slumber during the night we recalled hearing some weird cries/growls...however never really waking-up to check it out. Maybe that was best. - ec


Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA
Jun 11, 2012 - 05:55pm PT
I haven't but I had a friend who was mountain biking out above Little Tujunga Canyon and got stalked. He was scared as sh*t. He eventually got off his bike and rose it up in the air and yelled and it scared the cat away.

Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 12, 2012 - 06:30pm PT
I recently had a near miss with a cougar. I was at wine steals in Cardiff when a heavily botoxed member of the species fixed her gaze on me. Now I know what is is like to feel like a piece of raw meat.

I knew it would be a mistake to run, as the attempt to flee often excites this vicious predator into an immediate attack: Fortunately, I was able to back away and get out of harms way. Since this incident I have spoken with others who have had near misses in this area, apparently Del Mar has a large population of the fearsome creatures.

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Jan 12, 2013 - 10:30pm PT
john hansen

Jan 12, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
tinker b

the commonwealth
Jan 13, 2013 - 12:14am PT
i like the list...it makes me feel better about my odds. ^^
i was going down tenaya canyon by myself, i went down the slabs and felt really uneasy. i got to the first big swimming hole at the base of the falls, and for some reason didn't want to get in. i looked down and saw a cat print and just started booking it down canyon. i didn't bring a rope, because i had thought i would try down climbing. i got to the first rapell and some folks were just about to pull their line. i asked if i could use their line and they said okay. i hand over hand (or would it be hand under hand going down?) down their line. one of the woman in the party was kind of pissed that i had come down so unprepared, and warned me that there were more rapells to come. i knew i could get around the rest and just said thankyou and kept going, glad that they would be inbetween me and the lion.
i have felt watched a few other times, but i have never seen a lion.

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Jan 13, 2013 - 01:17am PT
I would love to see one in the wild. Of course that's easy to say while sitting on this nice couch
Captain...or Skully

Jan 13, 2013 - 01:26am PT
There used to be one that prowled around the El Cap area.
Well, one Winter, anyway.

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Jan 13, 2013 - 01:31am PT
Kurt Burt and his gal got stalked all day this summer by one, when they were doing Whitney via New Army pass. My gal and I had just been in that area a couple weeks before, well within its territory. Scary stuff, I always get nervous when I'm on a trail in the back country with tree branches that overhang the trail. You can lose your position at the "top" of the food chain pretty quick with a cat. Beautiful creatures but I wouldn't want to get stalked by one for sure.

Trad climber
Jan 14, 2013 - 11:05am PT
About three weeks back a cougar took a deer less then 100 yds from camp 4, up in the boulders. We heard the screams (deer scream when they die) in the middle of the night, then I found blood and dear prints and cat prints and a stomach in the morning. I couldn't figure out where the rest of the body went.

Jan 14, 2013 - 03:38pm PT
Listen to the first tale:


I've only seen one and that was dashing across the Mineral King road at dusk, near the western edge of the Sequoia National Park boundary. The long tail gave it away.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 14, 2013 - 03:46pm PT
28 inches? DAMN!

You musta scared the poo outta that poor kitty!
Jebus H Bomz

Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Jan 14, 2013 - 03:47pm PT
A buddy and I nearly hit one while driving in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a close call, but an awesome way to see the cat as it was going at full speed down hill and across two lanes of traffic (it took up a whole lane with paws outstretched and tail out for balance). I was pretty happy we didn't hit it!

I don't know if I've ever been stalked by one, however.

Trad climber
Jan 14, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
I believe I was! A few years ago while waiting for some friends to show up, I decided to explore some boulders up hill from a turnout in the road. It was early season and the road ended due to snow banks etc...So up the backside of Jackass Rock (No pun intended) to recon the area. Turned out the rock was bunk. Went down the same way and stuck my head in the snowmelt cause the hike up had me huffing and it was quite warm. Where I did my head dunk the snowmelt split in two directions. One left and the other on the right as one looked back downhill . I had come up the left draw and went down the same way. Oh and I had taken my sweaty shirt off too. Anyway got back to the truck and drove the curve all of say 20-30ft. and out jumps the biggest mofo cat I have ever seen directly in front of me .....from the other draw!!!
I was stunned and just sat there till the adrenaline rush made my legs all shaky jakey!
It was at time, fully realizing that I was being watched..........I get a little freaked everytime I think about it.

Trad climber
Jan 14, 2013 - 07:39pm PT
When I saw the title to this thread, I read "cougar" out of context. I have been stalked by a cougar(old lady) and a cougar(mtn lion). Neither was much fun.

My 2 friends and I were snowshoeing out of the backcountry after a failed attempt to find unclimbed ice. It was snowing very hard and the temperatures were very cold. One night I believe it was about -32F (we were near grand lake, co). So we were all a little tired even though it was a short trip. We had about 4 or so miles to go when we reached a lake that marks the start of the summer trailhead. It was pitch dark and puking snow. At the lake we all decided to hike at a separate pace to the truck. I was in the middle about 10 minuted behind the leader and about 30 minutes behind the guy behind me. I was following the tracks in front of me but it was snowing so hard that I would lose them periodically. Then, I saw lion tracks. I knew right away, they were huge!! The lion tracks were following the snowshoe tracks that I was following. I kept moving and although exhausted, I was moving faster following both sets of tracks.

I may have walked about 100 meters before the snowshoe tracks stopped, blown away by the snow. But the lion tracks now faced the other way, still fresh. I heard a loud rustle in the woods behind me and my heart sank. It was snowing to hard to see anything but I knew it was very close. It had walked my way and I met up with it. I kept walking, slower and looking in all directions. "Do I get my tools out?? No you shouldn't take off your pack" I thought. I started singing and my heart was racing. I started walking faster, still looking around periodically to see whatever I could.

I probably reached the truck about 35 minutes later and the first thing out of my buddies mouth was "Dude, did you see the mountain lion." Holy shit!! So we decided that if the other guy didn't show up soon that we would get our tools and go out there. He showed up soon after to our relief.

I will have to post the story about the old lady cougar in another thread :)

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 14, 2013 - 09:13pm PT
I was in the middle about 10 minuted behind the leader and about 30 minutes behind the guy behind me.

Man, and I thought I was slow!!!!!! :-)

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Jan 14, 2013 - 09:23pm PT
Rong...too bad you didn't have a gun to defend yourself with...RJ

Trad climber
Jan 14, 2013 - 09:45pm PT
BITD when I was smarter in my own mind than reality. Wandering around in Pine Creek canyon outside of Bishop I came across a reasonably fresh deer kill. So like the smart guy I was I spent some time checking it out. Oopsie, there was another, older carcass under the recent kill. This was in a pretty tight copse of aspens. So, it suddenly dawns on me that I'm sitting there fat, dumb and happy rummaging around in the cougar's food shed. Doh!

Never saw the cat but am pretty sure it was watching me.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jan 14, 2013 - 09:50pm PT
Doh! You bet it was checking you out.

Jan 14, 2013 - 10:00pm PT

Crag in City Creek Canyon Salt Lake City.

Trad climber
Jan 14, 2013 - 10:54pm PT
Doh! You bet it was checking you out.

Fortunately, given the recent kill it was well fed and did not need me for lunch!

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Jan 14, 2013 - 11:05pm PT
Reilly...Weren't you at the center of the tailhook scandal...? RJ

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 15, 2013 - 11:17am PT
RJ, leave it to you to dredge up old wounds.
And we both know it was totally bogus and trumped up.
What happens in Vegas...totally false advertising.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Jan 15, 2013 - 02:11pm PT
here's a great clip if it hasn't already been shared

cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gupjP5ml2GA


Truckee, CA
Jan 15, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Got stalked in 1994 hiking down from tuolumne on snow creek to the valley floor. Just below 120 i was cross countrying a little and ended up turning round after going too far through the bush only to find kitty prints of considerable size over my own prints just several minutes old. After puckering my as#@&%e, i picked up two good size rocks, unclipped my chest strap and hip belt and high-tailed it up and outta there. Hitched down to the valley instead to go get laid in the terrace.

Boulder climber
Jan 15, 2013 - 02:57pm PT
D35, cool shot!

I run in cougar country frequently, and one of my favorite trails goes right by where a runner was killed by a cougar in 1994. Always makes me uneasy seeing the marker when I run by alone.

Jan 15, 2013 - 03:03pm PT
I saw Donini get stalked by a cougar once in Alaska. Right in front on her husband.

Jan 15, 2013 - 03:04pm PT
But he's so old, I don't know if she would have qualified as a cougar for Jim.

Trad climber
Palo Alto, CA
Jan 19, 2013 - 03:46pm PT
Coyotes and mountain lion in Yosemite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WvQRKz1cc4

Trad climber
Squamish, BC
Jan 19, 2013 - 06:53pm PT
Credit: coastal_climber

Social climber
Lakewood, CO
Jan 19, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
Been stalked twice in Sourthern New Mex. once in the Organs in winter, and later in the spring in the Capitans. Both times my dogs epected me to defend them. Very scary.

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Jan 19, 2013 - 08:09pm PT
"Who has been stalked by a cougar?"

Not me.
I'm toooo ugly!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Jan 19, 2013 - 10:55pm PT
Back in the late 60s I was camped back in Piru Canyon in Southern Cal with my dad and little brother. We had backpacked in about 4 miles. I was practicing survival skills and this particular night had covered hot coals with sand to sleep on to stay warm. About 2 or 3 in the morning while getting too warm on one side or too cold on the other, I woke up to a couger standing just the other side of our pile of backpacks 10 feet away at the most. I started easing over to grab a 38 revolver and the cat just ambled away - no fear at all. It must have thought there was a barbecue going on - teenager turning on the coals - who could resist?

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 19, 2013 - 10:57pm PT
Stalked....probably, noticed...for sure.
john hansen

Jan 19, 2013 - 11:04pm PT
Well, Jim you probably wouldn't make much of a meal anyway.. kind of stringy,, and gamey. :)

Plus they can feel the SF vibe.

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 17, 2013 - 05:41pm PT
I've been told people on the internets really like cats, so here's some new footage of a family of lions in Yosemite


Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Apr 17, 2013 - 06:18pm PT

Highway Patrol helicopter offered assist to hiker stalked by mountain lion
Chopper used lights, sound in attempt to move cat off potential human prey
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer

A California Highway Patrol helicopter played a key role from the air in protecting a hiker being stalked by a mountain lion on a trail near Colfax.

And a state Fish and Wildlife spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the cougar was shot and killed Sunday by a warden after the cat made an aggressive approach toward him on the same trail.

The Highway Patrol chopper was called in by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office after the hiker’s 911 call was received late Saturday from the Stevens Trail, a rugged pathway into the North Fork American River canyon east of Colfax.

Officer Adrian Quintero said the pilot, Officer Monty Emery, and flight officer David White were dispatched from Valley Division Air Operations at the Auburn Municipal Airport to assist sheriff’s deputies.

When the victim called for help, the mountain lion was just 25 feet in front of him, Quintero said.

“He was approximately 2 miles down the (4.5-mile-long) trail and it was getting dark,” the officer said.

Using night-vision goggles, the two-person Highway Patrol helicopter crew was able to spot the hiker moments after arriving, Quintero said.

“The helicopter hovered close to the victim and, using the noise from the helicopter and the spotlight, was able to scare the mountain lion away,” Quintero said.

Using the helicopter’s loudspeaker, Emery and White directed the hiker up the trail to meet deputies, who were hiking down to meet him. The chopper stayed overhead until the hiker met up with rescuers, Quintero said.

Warden Mark Michilizzi of Fish and Wildlife said that the Stevens Trail, 17 miles northeast of Auburn, is typical mountain lion habitat but the aggressiveness of the cougar stalking a hiker was anything but. Despite efforts to make noise and appear big while shining a flashlight and blowing a whistle, the hiker could not get the mountain lion to leave. Not backing off, it circled the hiker for more than an hour, he said.

“This is a public walking trail and mountain lions are ambush-type hunters,” Michilizzi said. “There were very serious safety concerns, knowing the mountain lion had been actively stalking a man.”

A warden returned Sunday morning and was in the process of warning hikers about the mountain lion’s behavior the day before when he turned around and found himself facing the cat, Michilizzi said.

“It appeared the animal was stalking the warden,” Michilizzi said. “It was 10 feet away and positioned as if it was stalking the officer.”

The wildlife officer shot and killed the lion near where the hiker was stalked the day before, he said.

Michilizzi said details on the age, size, physical condition and sex of the mountain lion would be available after examination of the body was completed later this week. The type of firearm used to shoot the mountain lion was not immediately known, he said.

“The animal’s behavior was deemed to be a very serious public safety issue and the officer acted appropriately,” Michilizzi said.


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 17, 2013 - 06:21pm PT
The only cougars looking for someone my age are hooked up to life support systems in a hospice.
Captain...or Skully

Apr 19, 2013 - 08:05am PT
Cool vid, Will. TFPU.

Trad climber
the tip of god's middle finger
Apr 19, 2013 - 08:11am PT
that video of the cats inspires me
to periodically make love to the silence.
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
Jun 5, 2015 - 10:40pm PT
Been noticed fer sure...

Credit: Hardly Visible
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jun 6, 2015 - 03:27am PT
Nice kitty...

Let's see, here:

a. BooDawg's neighbor kids SAID they were stalked in Mariposa the other night, but may have just been trying to cover up smoking a joint to their mom with some lame fabrication.

b. neebee's Hatcher (quite a name there, for a feline!) cat tried to snag a nestling bird one night recently and ignited the stove, nearly. Both these stories come from their recent FB timelines.

Cats just wanna have meat.
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