Tips for Coexistence with Cougars

General Safety Tips

Although cougars typically avoid areas inhabited by humans and conflicts between cougars and people are rare there are a number of steps that you can take to further reduce the likelihood of conflicts.

Photo by Maurice Hornocker

  • If you live in or near to cougar habitat make sure you supervise your small children and don’t leave them unattended when they are playing outdoors. This is especially important during the hours around dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
  • Landscape around your home for safety. Prune shrubs and trees around the base to keep cougars from using them as hiding spots. Do not landscape with plants that are palatable to deer (the cougar’s primary prey). Install lighting to illuminate walkways at night.
  • Seal off open spaces under buildings or porches to prevent animals that may attract cougars from using them as hiding spaces or shelter.
  • Don’t feed deer, other wildlife or feral cats, to avoid attracting cougars.
  • Make sure your garbage cans are tightly sealed so as to not attract small animals that may attract cougars
  • Keep compost secured so as to not attract small animals that may attract cougars.
  • For the highest level of protection, consider installing around your yard a woven wire or chain-link fence of at least 10 feet high topped with a 3-foot overhang facing the outside of the fence that extend at a 65-degree angle. To be most effective, the fence can be topped with one or more electric wires.

Cougar may return repeatedly if food, water, or shelter is available. However, cougars use natural areas, such as washes, to move through populated areas to more remote areas, and such movements are necessary to prevent problems with inbreeding and local extinction associated with habitat fragmentation. If food, water, and shelter are not available, cougars generally move on to other areas more quickly. If you live or recreate in cougar country, remain aware of your surroundings and take steps to minimize risks to yourself, your family, and pets.

Pet Safety Tips

  • Keep your dogs and cats indoors, especially after dusk and before dawn, to keep them from becoming prey for cougars.
  • Keep pet food indoors whenever possible. If you feed animals outside make sure you gather up the food and water bowls and clean up any spilled food so as to not attract wild animals.
  • If you must keep pets outside, consider installing a cougar-resistant fence as described above under general safety tips.

Livestock / Domestic Animal Safety Tips

  • Whenever possible, confine livestock and other domestic animals in secured and covered enclosures or barns.
  • Consider using a livestock guard animal if you have a large area of land. Many ranchers and livestock owners using special breeds of dogs that are well-suited for protecting livestock. There are several websites provided in the Links to Resources section that explain the different breeds and behaviors of livestock guard dogs as well as recommendations for finding a reputable breeder.
  • Install a fence around areas where livestock or domestic animals are kept as described above under general safety tips.