Please read my statistical summary about lion attacks first, to put these summaries into proper context.
These are quotes or summaries from various sources that have given numbers on the total number of attacks within a given period. Note that the information is only current to the date of the reference. In some cases, I have updated the information with additional comments in italics.
The references are given here.
- In California, after fatal attacks on humans in 1890 and 1909, there were no further verified attacks until March, 1986. From then until July, 1995, there have been 10 verified attacks on humans in California. (OC)
- Nationwide, attacks averaged about three per year until 1970 when the rate jumped to 14 attacks per year which continued throughout the 1990s. (Also see chart in source). (Term Paper On Mountain Lions)
- A scientific review of records on attacks by cougars on humans in the United States and Canada from 1890 through 1990 indicated there were 53 cougar attacks on humans during this period. There were nine attacks that resulted in 10 human deaths, and 44 non-fatal attacks.
Since that report was published in 1991 (by Professor Paul Beier, a wildlife ecologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, formerly of University of California, Berkeley), there have been three documented fatal human attacks in the United States, one in Colorado and two in California. (OC, in 1995) (One additional death occurred in Colorado in 1997 - see next quote)
- There have been only two deaths ever in Colorado from lion attacks: a 10-year-old Lakewood boy during a hike in 1997 in Rocky Mountain National Park and an 18-year-old man in 1991 who was jogging near Idaho Springs. There have been only five previously recorded attacks in the state, according to the division of wildlife. (Denver Post, 5/1/98, B-01)
- The California Department of Fish and Game has carefully documented cougar-human incidents which result in injuries to people. Verifiable records of human beings injured by mountain lions in California document only 12 such incidents. (OC)
- Mountain lion sightings reported to the California Department of Fish and Game have increased from 59 in 1991 to over 300 in 1994. However, caution must be used in interpreting reports from the public involving mountain lions. Many reports are difficult, if not impossible, to verify based on limited information provided by members of the public who are unfamiliar with the appearance and habits of mountain lions. (OC)
There were 322 confirmed incidents of mountain lion damage to pets and livestock and 121 mountain lions killed on depredation permits in 1994. This compares with five to 10 confirmed incidents of damage and one to five lions killed annually in the early 1970s. (OC)
- Since 1986, there have been nine human injuries in California and two deaths. The injuries were mostly to children visiting parks. Two adult women were killed and partly consumed, two in 1994. (OC, in 1995)
- There have been 10 fatal cougar attacks since 1890 in the U.S., half in the past 10 years. (SDUT 8/16/98)
- There have been 36 [cougar] attacks [in North America], including seven fatal ones, recorded between 1991 and 1999. That compares with 20 -- two fatal -- during the 1980s and 17 -- four fatal -- during the 1970s. (Calgary Herald 1/4/01)
Copyright © 1999-2004 by Tom Chester.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 12 March 2004