Encountering a Mountain Lion in the Guadalupe Mountains

A mountain lion is obscured by trees and vegetation
A mountain lion in the Dog Canyon area.

NPS Photo

While they are rarely seen by visitors, the entirety of Guadalupe Mountains National Park is mountain lion habitat.

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.

Sign text and image about Mountain Lion Safety

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: September 20, 2022

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