Fighting is the last resort during any mountain lion encounter, but what do you do if the cat just stays there and takes a beating? Two visitors to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada say this scenario happened to them when they were surprised by a cougar on a hiking trail.
“I just belted it as hard as I could,” Samantha Lean, who was visiting from Australia, told the CBC.
Lean claims that she and Donald Lauder, also from Australia, were walking on a riverside path earlier this week when the mountain lion jumped out behind them and hissed. Since the cat was so close, Lean said she instinctively started beating the cat with a stick while Lauder hurled stones. For all their effort, the cat simply shrugged off their blows and continued to hiss aggressively at the pair.
“I guess it was waiting for us to run or something,” Lauder speculated.
The cat only left when Lauder missed with one of his throws and sent a rock through the dense bushes. The cougar turned and rushed after the rock, giving the two hikers the chance to retreat to a nearby highway where they had left their bikes. They later spoke to a park ranger regarding the incident and were told that it was likely a younger animal that they encountered. Since coming face-to-face with a mountain lion in Jasper National Park is so rare, the cat was probably more confused about what to do than they were.
Lauder and Lean described the cat as especially large. Adult mountain lions are often more purposeful in their interactions with humans—and they can also be very dangerous. In several reported cases, not even fighting back will deter a mountain lion attack. In 2009 a Wyoming man fought a cougar with nothing less than a chainsaw, and even a eight-inch gash on the cat’s shoulder was not enough to stop it.
“You would think if you hit an animal with a chainsaw it would dig right in,” Dustin Britton, who was defending his wife and infant children, told the Associated Press afterwards. “I might as well have hit it with a hockey stick.”
The wound did slow the animal enough for Britton’s family to seek shelter inside their RV. Park rangers later hunted down and euthanized the ferocious cougar.
Hopefully the mountain lion in this case has learned to give humans a wide berth next time.