What would you do if you saw a mountain lion running toward you out of the bushes? That’s what happened to Dutch Faro, a man hiking near Pyramid Lake north of Los Angeles. Faro captured the whole encounter on video (see below) shared on Instagram.
“I was really just enjoying my hike, making a funny video and documenting it,” Faro said.
The 21-year-old musician, actor, and private chef was enjoying listening to music, running, and taking in the scenery moments before the cougar came charging down the hill.
Primal Instincts Kick In
At first, he thought it must be a dog, but then he realized what was happening.
“Didn’t take long to snap into reality it was a f—-n cougar,” Faro told Backpacker.
“Oh, s—,” Faro shouted.
Instantly, Faro’s primal instincts kicked in, and he roared at the running mountain lion as if he were a caveman.
“I went back thousands of years and just let out a caveman roar,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “I’m glad it worked – I could have been in the hospital right now.”
Rather than cowering or running, he stepped toward the lion as he yelled. Backpacker said that he “turned around and chased it back,” a bluff. In response, the lion was clearly frightened and scampered away into the undergrowth, where it watched from a distance.
There was no time to think about what to do. Fortunately, he did the right thing. Running from a big cat could trigger their instincts to pursue prey. Since Faro was initially running, that may have prompted the cat to approach.
“People are asking me, ‘did your life flash before your eyes?'” Faro said. “I didn’t have time for my life to flash before my eyes — I had to think on my feet.”
On the other hand, charging a lion is not the best idea, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Instead, they suggest “backing away slowly and making yourself look large.” Also, always give them an escape route.
Even though cougars are common in California, these encounters are rare, much less caught on video. Almost always, cougars avoid contact with highly dangerous humans. Although they may see you, they remain elusive, and you will never even know they are there.
Possibly, this was an inexperienced cub. Faro told NBC Los Angeles that he worried its protective mother might be nearby and left the area right away.
“I was like, you know, just in full survival mode,” he said.
Was This a Mountain Lion Cub?
As we all know, young cats haven’t quite got the hang of how to hunt yet. So, they can get it wrong and do silly things sometimes. Likewise, this might have been a cub who made an error in judgment, one that it probably won’t make twice.
A large carnivore researcher from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Justin Dellinger, confirmed that the lion appeared to be a subadult. Thus, it may have been “less experienced in hunting and procuring food.”
As a rule, Dellinger pointed out, “mountain lions are experts “at making a living in and amongst people without anyone even knowing they’re there.”
For example, the mountain lion is watching Faro in the picture below:
What to Do if a Mountain Lion Approaches
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife offers some tips in the rare event that a cougar approaches you.
For example, being vocal, like Faro, was a good idea.
- Be vocal; however, speak calmly and do not use high-pitched tones or high pitch screams.
However, don’t approach the lion:
- Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.
To ensure the lion recognizes you as a human:
- Do not crouch down or bend over. Squatting puts you in a vulnerable position of appearing much like a 4-legged prey animal.
Likewise, you can help make sure the lion doesn’t see you as prey:
- DO NOT RUN. Stay calm. Running may trigger chase, catch and kill response. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms, or opening your jacket if wearing one; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
Also, protect pets by keeping them on a leash.
- Off-leash dogs on trails are at increased risk of becoming prey for a mountain lion.
If everything else fails and the lion attacks:
- If a lion attacks, fight back. Research on mountain lion attacks suggests that many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, garden tools, even an ink pen or bare hands. Try to stay on your feet. If knocked down, try to protect head and neck.
For more tips, see the official website.
Video by ViralHog: