NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Prey for Mountain Lions: Humans!

May 11, 2004

Mountain lion attacks are on the rise in California since the state banned preemptive killing, say observers.

In 1972, California banned the hunting of mountain lions, and in 1990, voters declared them an endangered species. Currently, only authorities are permitted to kill if the lion poses a safety threat. Private citizens, with a special permit, can kill a lion if it has damaged property.

  • Between 1909 and 1986, no fatal attacks occurred on humans.
  • In the past 10 years, California has experienced 6 mountain lion attacks and 2 deaths.

Meanwhile, as the summer season approaches, California newspapers and the Department of Fish and Game have released information on protecting oneself from a potential attack:

  • Mountain lions are drawn to children, so adults should pick up the children that are with them so they don't panic and run.
  • Do not squat or bend over while picking up children, or a lion might mistake a human for a quadruped and potential prey.
  • People should try to appear larger in order to scare off a mountain lion -- by waving the arms, opening up your jacket, speaking firmly in a loud voice, and throwing any available items without crouching or turning your back.

The only advice that's missing, say observers, is to "aim carefully, squeeze trigger." Unfortunately, the prohibitions against killing that now coddle mountain lions are making prey out of humans.

Source: Terence Jeffrey, "Our Land or Theirs?", April 21, 2004.


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