A hiker has shared GoPro footage of himself being stalked down a woodland trail by an exceptionally persistent mountain lion, which pursued him for six nerve-racking minutes.
The clip, shared by Reddit user HeavenIsBelowMe, shows the man using various strategies to try to scare the animal back after apparently getting too close to its young. After an initial moment of panic he tries talking calmly, telling the animal he's big and scary, shouting, and growling, but it has little effect and after three minutes the cat begins lunging and hissing and it continues to follow him uphill.
It's not clear from the video exactly why (the man comments that he doesn't have a gun), but after six minutes something spooks the cat, which takes flight back down the trail. It seems that he may have thrown a rock, which is one of the best ways to handle a close encounter with a mountain lion.
Close calls with mountain lions (also called cougars, pumas, panthers, and catamounts) are relatively rare, but they are unpredictable and can be dangerous – particularly when defending their cubs.
Mountain lions are most active at dawn or dusk, and the best way to avoid running into one is to avoid hiking or running alone at these times. If you do come across one, the National Park Service (NPS) warns never to run, as this can trigger the animal's instinct to chase. Make eye contact and don't crouch down or bend over, as this will make you look smaller and more vulnerable.
Instead, do everything you can to look bigger, such as opening your jacket and raising your arms.
"Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back," says the NPS. "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."
For more advice, see our guides what to do if you meet a mountain lion and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.