Risks Compared

Risks Compared

With increasing media reports of encounters between mountain lions and humans, many people who recreate outdoors worry about the risk of attack. Records indicate the risk is still quite low. In the last 105 years (1890-1995) there were approximately 69 cougar attacks on humans in the United States and Canada. (Some attacks are difficult to verify.) Thirteen of these attacks were fatal and 56 resulted in nonfatal maulings. The majority of attacks (50%) occurred in British Columbia. Experts are at a loss to explain why.

An important factor influencing cougar/human interactions is the increase in both cougar and human populations, especially in California. Cougar numbers cannot be accurately counted, but the human population in California has increased 60% since 1970, from 20 million to 32 million. The low risk of a fatal cougar attack can be put into perspective by comparing it with more common causes of death.

[FIRST GRAPH] The 10 Leading Causes of Death in the U.S., 1994
(Source: National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services.)

[SECOND GRAPH] Principal Types of Accidental Deaths in U.S., 1994
(Source: National Safety Council)

[THIRD GRAPH] If you spend time outdoors, consider the hazards posed by animals or nature.