Cougars in Our Communities

About Cougars

Cougars are the largest of North America’s wild cats, with males ranging from 130-160 lbs and females weighing from 90-110 lbs. Cougars are effective predators that feed primarily on deer, but will alternatively eat elk, moose, bighorn sheep and small mammals. Occasionally, they may also predate livestock and pets. Cougars are wary of open areas and tend to live in wooded, rocky areas and often build their dens in dense underbrush, under tree overhangs, logs or in rock caves. However, they are adaptable creatures and can be found anywhere that provides enough cover and deer to support them. While hunting, cougars will not leap from a tree to attack their prey, rather they will silently stalk and charge from the ground. Cougars can hunt at any time of day, but tend to be most active during dusk, night, and dawn. When threatened, cougars will seek refuge in trees and will likely remain there until they sense the danger has passed. Cougars will only vocalize when mating, communicating with kittens or in instances where they feel threatened.

Preventing Cougar Conflicts

To deter cougars from entering your property there are several measures you can follow.

  • Ensure that pet food is not left outside and garbage is kept in containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Clean spillage from bird feeders to avoid attracting sources of prey.
  • Do not feed other wildlife, including salt licks for deer, as this attracts prey animals and subsequently their predators.
  • Don’t provide cougars with shelter by trimming shrubs and low hanging tree branches and preventing access to spaces under decks and porches.
  • Have motion detector lights and bright lighting around your property.
  • Do not allow pets or young children to play unsupervised outside.

When entering cougar territory, or areas that there have been cougar sightings, consider the following measures to keep yourself and others safe.

  • Carry bear spray or other self defense items and be prepared to use them if a cougar gets within 40m, approximately one bus length, to you.
  • Keep children and pets close. Do not allow them outside unsupervised and never let them near forested areas around dusk and dawn.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash.
  • Watch for signs of cougar activity, including tracks, scat, scrape marks, and covered kills.
  • Travel in a group.

Cougar Encounters

When you are outside and have spotted a cougar at a distance and it is not focused on you, do not provoke it. Gather everyone in close, especially children and pets. Prepare your bear spray or other self defense tools and begin to slowly back away from the cougar, do not run. Do not turn your back to the animal, maintain visual contact. Ensure that everyone remains calm and does not panic, do not show fear by screaming and running.

In rare instances, a cougar may approach you showing signs of predatory behaviour, including snarling or hissing, and intently tracking your movements. If an aggressive cougar is moving towards you, it is imperative to show the cougar that you are not a prey animal and will fight back. Move any children or pets closer to or behind you without bending over or taking your eyes off the cougar. Do not run, and do not turn your back on the animal. Begin to yell and use noise makers and make yourself look larger by opening your jacket and waving your arms and walking stick. If you have a pack or anything that may distract the cougar long enough for you to escape, throw this away from the direction you intend to go. Utilize your bear spray if the animal is within range.

If you are unable to deter the cougar and it makes contact, do not play dead. Continue to fight off the animal with any tools available, including your bear spray and any reachable rocks and sticks. Aim your attacks at the animal’s face, particularly the eyes. If you are knocked down, get back up as quickly as possible. Once the cougar has left, continue to watch for it as you head to safety.

Reporting Cougar Encounters

Unfortunately, Rocky View County is unable to respond to reports of encounters with cougars as these fall under the jurisdiction of Alberta Fish & Wildlife. It is important to document any interactions with cougars, whether these may be sightings, instances of predation on livestock or pets, kill sites, attacks or near attacks. Recording details of the encounter, location, time and if possible, taking photos, will aid Fish & Wildlife in appropriately responding to cougar encounters.

Reportings can be made to your nearest Fish & Wildlife office or the 24-hour report a poacher line.

Fish & Wildlife

Calgary: 403-297-6423

Cochrane: 403-932-2388

Strathmore: 403-934-3422

Report a Poacher Line: 1-800-642-3800


Further information can be found at the following links:

Cougars and outdoor recreation - Government of Alberta

Human-Cougar Conflict - Government of Alberta

Cougar Brochure - Government of Alberta

Mountain Lions - Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage Handbook

Government of Alberta Cougar Occurrence Summary 2000-2018

Posted in: Agriculture

Media Inquiries

Communications & Engagement


Social Media