About Cougars and What to Do If You Run into One

Lisa C. Community, Newcomer Information

In the past decade, there’s been an increase in sightings of cougars in Alberta.

Recently, signs that say “WARNING: Cougar in Area” have been posted in some parts of Fish Creek Provincial Park, after a cougar spotting was reported in the area. Read Calgary Herald’s news report for more details.

Cougars are also known as pumas or mountain lions.
  • Adult cougars weigh 40 to 90 kg and can be up to 2.5 m long, much larger than a house cat. Don’t attempt to approach and pet them.
  • Cougars are great hunters that pretty on deer, elk, moose, sheep and other mammals.
  • They talk and rush their prey from the ground.
  • They are usually shy of humans and would avoid human activity whenever they can.
Prevent conflicts with cougars in the wild:
  • Stay alert for signs (tracks, scat, scrapes, etc.) and don’t wear headphones.
  • Travel in larger groups and keep children between adults.
  • Keep your dog close on a leash, as cougars can be attracted to dogs
  • Carry bear spray, a noisemaker and a walking stick.
  • Keep a working cell phone handy in case you need to call for help.
If you saw a cougar at a distance and it’s not focused on you
  • Don’t provoke it. Don’t run. Prepare to use your bear spray.
  • Gather everyone (dog included) and slowly back away while keeping your eye it.
If the cougar is approaching you, hissing, staring or following your movements
  • Don’t run. Don’t turn your back. Pick up your children/dog without crouching down.
  • Shout at the cougar and make yourself look larger (opening your jacket, waving your arms, etc.)
  • Use your noisemaker and bear spray.
  • Drop something to distract the cougar.
If the cougar makes contacts (hopefully this never happens!)
  • Don’t play dead. Keep fighting back.
  • Continue using your bear spray and use anything available as a weapon.
  • Aim at its eyes and face.
Animals such as bears, moose, coyotes and cougars can become dangerous.
  • In an emergency where there is immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
  • For non-emergency situations call Alberta Fish & Wildlife at 403-297-6423 (between 8:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday) or 1-800-642-3800 (outside of office hours).

Word of the Day:

Scat: droppings, stools

More information: https://www.albertaparks.ca/media/4477103/preventing_conflict_with_wildlife-cougars.pdf

FAQs about cougars: https://www.alberta.ca/cougars.aspx

Stay safe outdoors when traveling in cougar country: https://www.alberta.ca/cougars-and-outdoor-recreation.aspx