This Utah Hiker found himself nearly prey to an aggressive mountain lion, and managed to frantically film the entire encounter.
On May 13, “frequent” Salt Lake City hiker Jared Smith began hearing noises behind him.
“I was hiking Broads Fork Trail up Big Cottonwood Canyon (a trail I’ve hiked frequently),” he tells ViralHog of the early stages of the encounter.
Seconds after the rustling began, Smith turned around and was face to face with an angry puma.
“I faced the cougar and proceeded to back up and try to make myself big and talk calmly to the cougar,” he says of his strategy, which can be seen and heard throughout his remarkable footage.
His video is almost hard to watch. The mountain lion continually charges Jared, who walks backward and keeps eye contact the entire time. His tone is frantic, his voice cracking as he stares into what he believes is going to be the death of him.
“The cougar periodically would sprint at me and hiss and show its teeth. She probably was about 10 feet away at her closest,” he recalls.
All in all, Smith says “the encounter lasted about 5 minutes and I have about 2 minutes of it on video. Eventually, she gave up pursuing me and I made it away safely.”
Which leads us to footage Outsiders have to see for themselves:
Occurred on May 13, 2021 / Salt Lake City, Utah, USAViralHog
Intense Mountain Lion Encounters Aren’t as Infrequent as We’d Hope
Both this headline and footage feel familiar, too, as cougar encounters feel far more frequent as of late. With swaths of people returning to the outdoors during the COVID-19 Pandemic, these high-stakes meetings have become far more frequent than any Outsider would ever hope.
Just recently, this Montana turkey hunter found himself in the middle of a pack of three cougars – a wildly unusual circumstance as the species is known to be solitary.
In addition, aggressive mountain lion behavior shut down Colorado State Park this past October. Most similar, though, is this harrowing footage of a hiker standing his ground against an aggressive cougar for six terrifying minutes.
Mountain lions have been observed hunting humans, and are remarkably stealthy apex predators that should always be treated with the utmost respect and caution. As such, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources lays out specific advice for all Outsiders to follow whilst in cougar territory.
UDWR Cougar Survival Guidelines:
- Do not run from a cougar. Running will provoke an instinctive prey response and the cougar may pursue you.
- Make yourself look intimidating. Make eye contact with the cougar, which cougars consider a threat, and make yourself look big by opening your jacket, raising your arms and waving them. Speak loud and firm to the cougar.
- If you have children, pick them up. Try to pick children up before they panic and run. When you are picking children up, keep eye contact with the cougar. Try not to bend over too far or turn your back to the cougar.
Most important, however, is this last recommendation:
- If you are attacked, fight back! Protect your head and neck, as the neck is the target for the cougar. If the cougar thinks it is not likely to win its fight with you quickly, it will probably give up and leave.
What an encounter. Cheers to Jared Smith for standing his ground, following as many of these tips as he was able to in the moment, and for sharing his story of survivial.