I've been noticing reports of cougar sightings again. It brought to mind the time, about a year ago when my then 6 and 7 yr. old were having a chat with an off duty Police Officer. The Police Officer advised them, should they ever come into contact with a cougar, to turn and run. My children were quick to explain to the officer why that was not a good way to react! They then explained the correct procedure to follow should she ever encounter a cougar.
Do NOT run! Ever! Consider the housecat and the rat. What does the cat do when she see's the rat run? She chases it! The cougar will do the same thing if you run and I guarantee you , if she wants you, she will have you. YOU CANNOT OUTRUN A COUGAR! Now, imagine your cat's surprise if that same rat, rather than running were to stand up on it's hind legs, start waving his arms and shouting at the cat! Knowing my cat, I can just see her eyes get big as saucers, she'd probably stand there a minute, frozen in shock before she turned tail and ran!
Stop! Face the cougar! Stand up straight and look her straight in the eye! If you have a small child with you, pick them up. If you are wearing a jacket, leaving the sleeves on, grasp the bottom edges and it pull it up above and behind (not off) your head. If you are not wearing a jacket raise your arms up high. Wave them SLOWLY back and forth above your head. You are making yourself look bigger. If you have a stick in your hand, or there is one nearby wave it. If you have a rock in your hand, throw it at the cougar.Do NOT bend over or crouch to pick up a stick or rock!
Remain "BIG!" Now, Yell! Yell AT the cougar. Slow words, Not a lot of screaming deliriously, slow, controlled, but loud. Personally, I think my words would consist of "Help! Cougar!" repeated over and over again (I'm guessing the cougar won't be able to understand what I'm saying) :) Back away, towards safety, SLOWLY!" Continue facing the cougar, being "big" and loud as you back away.
If a cougar has been reported in your area, keep in mind the most likely time to encounter a cougar is at dusk and at dawn. They can show up any time of day (unforunately cougars, especially sick, injured, or just plain hungry cougars don't know the rules) but those are the most likely times. If there has been a sighting in your area, this is the time to make sure your children are inside as the sun begins fading.
It may also be a good idea to keep your trash inside and, of course keep in mind cougars have a fondness for small animals, such as pet dogs and cats. Bring them in at night and don't feed them outside, especially during those dusk and dawn hours. Even a large dog can be at risk.