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"Do not play dead," he said.

However, if you come across one in a closer setting, there are several things you should do to reduce the risk of an attack. For one, make yourself appear as big as possible. Raise your arms stretch yourself out. Persuade the cougar to simply walk away.

and he and a colleague had to jump in and pull the sluggish, but still very much awake, mountain lion to shore.

POWELL If you go for a hike in the mountains or a stroll in the forest, there is an excellent chance a mountain lion may keep you company for part of the trip.

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Wyoming biologist says mountain lions are watching

He has worked in the outdoors for 20 years, and he was a South Dakota Game and Fish Department staffer before coming to Wyoming. Thompson has studied and pursued mountain lions for years, and he said he finds the big cats fascinating.

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It's important to study and track mountain lions and other wild animals in order to properly protect them and ensure the population remains viable, Thompson said. He said they can live to be about

That's one of the lessons Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist Dan Thompson, who is in charge of protecting and studying Wyoming's large carnivores, offered during a recent presentation at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody.

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for hours. In general, he said they are difficult to categorize, and are both curious and "cryptic."

Thompson emphasized that such a scenario is very rare. You can ensure it is even rarer by not taking walks in mountain lion friendly territory alone, and not in the morning or Nike Classic Cortez Premium Qs

He said he has survived the work without any serious injuries, but he has learned to wear sturdy work gloves when dealing with the kittens, whose teeth are razor sharp.

Remember, you're an animal, too, and rely on your instincts, Thompson said. Wyoming is blessed that such large animals share the state with man, Thompson said.

12 to 13 years old, and the females will give birth every 2 1/2 to three years.

Strike it. Use a weapon, or pick up a tree branch to use to knock it back.

at dusk, when the nocturnal creature is more likely to be active.

If the big cat, for whatever reason, comes toward you, read the signals. Has it flattened its ears? It is hissing and snarling? If it prepares to pounce, you must defend yourself, Thompson said.

Thompson said in the best case scenario, you will see a mountain lion from a distance. If that is the case, "enjoy the moment," he said.

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That technique has been known to work with bears, but Thompson said a mountain lion will just continue to attack its prey until it is dead and it can feed on it.

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Thompson said the health and safety of the animals is a priority. Once a drugged cat fell into a river, Nike Classic Cortez Cherry Blossom

Males will wander in search of hunting territory much more than females, who tend to reside close to their mother and other female relatives. But both male and female lions have astounded researchers when they have been found hundreds of miles from where they were once examined by biologists.

That doesn't mean people should panic about a sudden cougar attack, he said. They are extremely effective killers, but they rarely prey on humans; he said there have been less than two dozen fatal attacks nationwide in recent memory.

Never run. That will only excite the animal and bring its predatory instincts to the fore. Slowly back away, keeping the lion in front of you, since mountain lions prefer to attack by biting on the base of its victim's skull.

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Cougars are promiscuous animals. They are also competitive, and males will wage long, bloody fights that last Nike Cortez Classic Leather Red/White

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He has chased down cougars with specially trained dogs that tree the big cats. Once they are darted, they are measured for size, and their gender and age are checked. Hair, blood and genetic samples are taken.

They produce three or fewer kittens, and baby cougars have a 60 to 70 percent survival rate. For the mountain lion population to remain stable, they must have rugged terrain in which to live, ample cover in which to hunt and a strong prey base on which to feed.

Install outdoor lighting at your home to keep cougars at bay, and to alert you if one is in the area. Be careful with the shrubbery by your home, since a cougar will use any available cover.

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However, Thompson offered advice to people on what to do if they encounter a mountain lion, as well as how to reduce the odds of that happening. It's something he Mens Nike Cortez Leather routinely does during such presentations, he said.

The wildlife biologists will attach a radio collar and/or an ear tag. Sometimes the cougars are tattooed as well in an effort to improve tracking them.

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One cougar was killed when it was hit by a train in Oklahoma. It was determined it had traveled at least 663 miles, Thompson said.

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