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Even with all the reports listed on our site, your chances of encountering
Michigan's rarest animal are very low

You're probably more likely to get struck by lightning and win the lottery in the same day before you have a violent confrontation with an Eastern Cougar in Michigan.

Nevertheless, these are potentially very dangerous animals. Knowing a few simple procedures of what to do and more importantly, what not to do- can make all the difference.


There's been very little research on how to avoid eastern cougar attacks. But eastern cougar attacks that have occurred are being analyzed in the hope that some crucial questions can be answered: Did the victim do something to inadvertently provoke an attack? What should a person who is approached by a eastern cougar do - or not do? The following suggestions are based on studies and analysis of attacks by eastern cougars, tigers and leopards:

  • DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.

  • KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captured wild eastern cougars reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.

  • DO NOT APPROACH A COUGAR : Most eastern cougars will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

  • DO NOT RUN FROM A COUGAR : Running may stimulate a eastern cougar's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the eastern cougar.

  • DO NOT CROUCH DOWN OR BEND OVER: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat's prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you're in eastern cougar country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.

  • DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the eastern cougar that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

  • FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a cougar that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a eastern cougar usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.


Now that people and eastern cougars occupy so much of the same geographical areas, encounters are expected to increase. If you live in eastern cougar habitat, here's what you can do to reduce your chances of encountering a eastern cougar near your home:

  • DON'T FEED WILDLIFE: By feeding deer, raccoons or other wildlife in your yard, you will inadvertently attract eastern cougars, which prey upon them.

    Avoid using plants that deer prefer eat; if your landscaping attracts deer, eastern cougar may be close by.

  • LANDSCAPE FOR SAFETY: Remove dense and/or low-lying vegetation that would provide good hiding places for eastern cougars, especially around children's play areas; make it difficult for eastern cougars to approach your yard unseen.

  • INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Keep the perimeter of your house well lit at night- especially along walkways - to keep cougars visible.

  • KEEP PETS SECURE: Roaming pets are easy prey for hungry eastern cougars. Either bring pets inside or keep them in a kennel with a secure top. Don't feed pets outside; this can attract other eastern cougar prey.

  • KEEP LIVESTOCK SECURE: Where practical, place livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, and be sure to secure all outbuildings.

  • KEEP CHILDREN SAFE: Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside between dusk and dawn. Teach your children what to do if they encounter a eastern cougar.

Special thanks to:
How to Avoid or Survive an Encounter with a Mountain Lion
also know as panther, puma, cougar, painter, and catamount

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Page Last Updated 10/3/2008
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