Beautiful animal! It would be a shame to have to shoot it.
Upon reading the story of the mountain lion attack on a biker, I was struck by how easy it would have been to deal with the situation if just ONE of the people had packed a revolver or pistol (legal or not). These people didn't even have a can of pepper spray, or a collapsable/telescoping baton, or even a stick. The lady who participated in a tug-of-war with the cat over her friend was incredibly brave, however. It had to be a harrowing experience for both of them.
The good news today is that Anne Anne Hjelle, 30, whose face was in the cat's jaws (that's what her friend said), has been upgraded from serious condition to fair, and she's expected to survive.
A man's body (half malled/eaten) was found near where this cat was shot:
While mountain lion attacks are quite rare (only 13 fatal attacks on humans by mountain lions in the US and Canada since 1890, according to one summary), as are bear attacks, they do happen occasionally. About half of California is prime mountain lion country. As people expand civilization into the areas populated by wild animals, and hike and bike in more remote areas, the risk increases. The overpopulating is by the people. There are 35 million people and 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions in California. In the East, we've built suburbs where deers once lived, and now we have to thin out the deers to keep them from running into our cars and eating our shrubbery.
There have also been rare cases of two-legged attacks on park trails, such as on the Appalachian Trail in the East.
If you're going out in the wilderness areas, please pack a lightweight firearm like the 340PD (12 oz unloaded, about a pound loaded) and have it handy. If you're opposed to firearms, at least buy and carry a telescoping baton which can be extended with one swift swing. (Had the brave lady had one of these, she could have crushed the cat's skull.) This Government of California webpage offers these other suggestions:
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children. KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times. DO NOT APPROACH A LION: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape. DO NOT RUN FROM A LION: Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion. DO NOT CROUCH DOWN OR BEND OVER: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat's prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you're in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children. DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it. FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
In my opinion, it's a shame there's no suggestion to carry a personal defense firearm, and firearms are outlawed on many public lands. But, that's "Kali Fornia" for ya.
Regarding the advice to appear larger: I saw Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter" (who recently got into hot water for using his baby as a prop while feeding a croc) spread his arms and yell "I'm big! I'm big!" when approached by a wild animal. It appeared to work for him on the show, but I've got a feeling somebody on the set had a loaded rifle aimed just in case. I'd give it a try, if the animal were far enough away, and I had a loaded weapon in my hand in case it kept coming. I've let a number of large rattlers and mocs slither away in my time. But, before it got anywhere close (assuming I saw it coming - they are very fast), I'd be firing a loud/flaming warning shot into the air.
Ever thought about how the premise for many terror movies (attacks by wild animals, vicious dogs, bikers, etc.) would evaporate if the victim(s) had any kind of decent firearm and were trained and practiced in its use?
Speaking of dogs and mountain lions (just saw this on Fox News while compiling this post), a malnourished mountain lion was euthanized (due to her poor condition) in Holladay, Utah yesterday after it attacked and killed a family dog. Apparently the dog was the only thing she could catch in her condition.
Here's a list of fatal mountain lion attacks from 1890 to 1990, compiled sometime back from news reports.
Incidentally, at one time there were what we called "panthers" (just another name for mountain lions, like cougars and pumas) in the greater Atlanta area. Panthersville, in SW DeKalb County, was so named about 100 years ago because the cats were often seen in the lowlands there.
BTW, in case you've gathered from my posts re. firearms that I want to shoot at another human being, I just (yesterday) installed a liquid sodium security light which illuminates 100 feet all around my Atlanta house with an unirritating low intensity light (about like a full moon night). It will cost me about $33/year to operate. I'd much rather DETER the need to use a firearm for defense.