Holy Cow AD!! I would be terrified as well . I have no experience with wild life other than the occasional possum /bunny/ squirrel in the
yard. ( you had to worry about BEARS !!!!!!!!)
I did find a site that listed how to " protect " yourself in the event you run into a cougar.
I hope some of them are helpful though not all are practical for you and your kids. ( i am sure it isnt possible for you all to always travel in
The following suggestions are based on studies and analysis of attacks by eastern cougars, tigers and leopards:
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captured wild eastern cougars reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep
children within your sight at all times.
DO NOT APPROACH A COUGAR : Most eastern cougars will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
DO NOT RUN FROM A COUGAR : Running may stimulate a eastern cougar'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 eastern cougar.
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 eastern cougar 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 eastern cougar 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 cougar that was attacking his son. Others have fought back
successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a eastern cougar usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to
remain standing and face the attacking animal.
WHAT IF YOU LIVE IN EASTERN COUGAR COUNTRY?
Now that people and eastern cougars occupy so much of the same geographical areas, encounters are expected to increase. If you live in eastern cougar
habitat, here's what you can do to reduce your chances of encountering a eastern cougar near your home:
DON'T FEED WILDLIFE: By feeding deer, raccoons or other wildlife in your yard, you will inadvertently attract eastern cougars, which prey upon
"DEER-PROOF" YOUR LANDSCAPE:
Avoid using plants that deer prefer eat; if your landscaping attracts deer, eastern cougar may be close by.
LANDSCAPE FOR SAFETY: Remove dense and/or low-lying vegetation that would provide good hiding places for eastern cougars, especially around
children's play areas; make it difficult for eastern cougars to approach your yard unseen.
INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Keep the perimeter of your house well lit at night- especially along walkways - to keep cougars visible.
KEEP PETS SECURE: Roaming pets are easy prey for hungry eastern cougars. Either bring pets inside or keep them in a kennel with a secure top.
Don't feed pets outside; this can attract other eastern cougar prey.
KEEP LIVESTOCK SECURE: Where practical, place livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, and be sure to secure all outbuildings.
KEEP CHILDREN SAFE: Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside between dusk and dawn. Teach your
children what to do if they encounter a eastern cougar.
Be safe and alert... I can totally understand your apprehension ( especially with everyone being out and about on Friday).
E Coli scares me too . Do they have any idea what caused the outbreak??
[edit on 10/28/08 by SugarJ]