Montana Outdoors

Jun 15, 2012 3:55 PM by Shelby Fenster - KPAX News

Stay safe from mountain lions in Montana

MISSOULA- What would you do if you came face to face with a mountain lion? Wildlife experts recently offered up some advice on how the animals attack, and how you should react.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials conducted several scenarios to train experts on how to handle animal attacks earlier this week in Missoula.

Officials learned that bystanders play a crucial role in keeping mountain lions from successfully attacking their victims during the scenarios.

"By yelling at the cougar who is engaged in that activity it's not going to run away, our mere presence is not going to turn the cougar away," British Columbia conservation officer Kevin Van Damme explained.

"There has to be some physical contact where you're physically either removing the cougar from the victim or you take a stick or something and you're impacting the cougar to get him away from that prey," Van Damme added.

Since mountain lion attacks on humans are so rare, the animals don't know how to strike according to Van Damme.

"Effective predators like lions with typically go for a throat or neck bite and because people have such short necks and our heads are very hard, they have a real tough time penetrating or making that killing bite," he advised.

The lions will hold their ground and not move away from the site of attack, so it's up to the victim to move away from the location. And if mountain lions do have a successful kill, they take extra measures to protect their food.

"Cashing is where animals will hide their food source so they may drag it off of a trail, out of an open area, into a depression, under a tree. Sometimes they cover it with brush," Wyoming game warden Brady Vandeberg said.

Van Damme stressed that if you encounter a mountain lion, never run away because the animal will wait to attack until your back is turned.

Bear attacks are more common in Montana and should be handled similarly to a mountain lion attack according to wildlife officials, move away while facing the animal, without provoking a response.

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