If You Encounter A Cougar

Cougars and Humans

  • Cougars are elusive and prefer to avoid contact with humans, so attacks on humans are very rare.
  • The few cougar incidents with humans that have occurred typically involved children playing outside alone or adults who are jogging, skiing or hiking alone.
  • Cougars may confuse children for prey species because, like many small prey species, children are small, make quick, erratic movements and have high-pitched voices.
  • Most cougar incidents in Alberta involve pets. Cougars see domestic cats and dogs as easy prey. When bringing your dog along on a hike, camping or fishing trip, keep in mind that it may attract a cougar.
  • If hungry and malnourished, cougars will feed on such things as carrion or dog/cat food left in backyards, increasing the risk of human-cougar incidents.

Cougar Encounters

If you see a cougar at a distance

  • Cougars grooming or periodically looking away from you may simply be resting. In this case, avoid provoking the cougar:
    • Bring everyone in close and back away.
    • Do not run and do not turn your back.
    • Prepare to use your bear spray.

If the cougar is closer

  • Cougars close and showing such behaviours as hissing, snarling, staring intensely and tracking your movements present a threat. You must show the cougar you are not a prey animal and you are able to fight back:
    • Do not run. Do not turn your back
    • Make sure children and dogs stay calm. Keep them very close.
    • Make yourself look big. Wave your arms, open your jacket and do not crouch down or bend over
    • Use your noise deterrent and bear spray.

If the cougar makes contact

  • Continue using your bear spray.
  • Fight back with everything you can. Rocks, sticks or your fists should be aimed at the cougar's eyes and face.
  • If you're knocked down, get back up. Do not stop fighting.
  • Never play dead with a cougar.


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Updated: Apr 6, 2010