Mountain Lions

A mountain lion is standing and looking at the camera.
Also called cougar, puma, or panther

Photo courtesy of Dennis Sweetman

A sign with a mountain lion at the top and safety rules below.

Encountering a Mountain Lion

Each year, more than 150 lion sightings are reported by visitors to Big Bend National Park. While most of these sightings happen along park roadways, encounters along trails also occur. Since 1984 several mountain lion encounters in the park have resulted in attacks on people. While mountain lions generally prefer to avoid people, aggressive behavior can be caused by a number of factors including: a mother protecting kittens, a juvenile cat learning what is and is not prey, an older, injured, or ill cat who is stressed for food and approaching non-typical targets in desperation, or a curious cat whose ambush instincts are triggered by human behavior.

By taking precautions and knowing how to safely interact, humans and mountain lions can coexist.

In the event that you encounter an aggressive mountain lion:
  • Do not run. A mountain lion's attack instincts are triggered by running.
  • Keep children close, do not let them run ahead while hiking.
  • Maintain eye contact, and never turn away from the lion.
  • Stand up straight, with arms above your head in order to appear larger.
  • Back away very slowly in case the lion is guarding a kill or her den.
  • If the lion approaches, throw rocks or sticks and yell at the animal.
  • If the lion does attack, fight back.

Last updated: March 3, 2021

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129



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