Mountain Lions Fear Humans, Run Away If They Even Hear Human Voice, Study Finds

Posted: Jun 21 2017, 6:09am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 21 2017, 6:16am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Mountain Lions Fear Humans, Run Away If They Even Hear Human Voice, Study Finds
A Santa Cruz mountain lion. Credit: Sebastian Kennerknecht/

Mountain lions immediately ran away when exposed to recorded human voice

Mountain lions are one of the most fearsome predators in North America. Because of their ruthless reputation, humans fear them and always perceive them as a threat to their lives. But a new research says that mountain lions fear humans, too. In fact, they are more afraid of us than we are from them. They are so scared of humans that even only human voice can make them run away.

Mountain lion - also known as puma, panther, cougar or even catamount - is second-heaviest cat in Americas after the jaguar. Because of their razor sharp claws and running speed of 50 mph, humans always face the danger of being eaten by these beasts. But mountain lions do not usually recognize humans as prey and avoid bumping into them. Rare fatal puma attacks on human also back up the claim.

To determine whether mountain lions fear humans, researchers conducted a novel experiment. They placed audio equipment in the Santa Cruz Mountains near areas where lions kills deer and other animals. Those kill sites were identified with data collected from captured lions. As soon as the lion came to feed, researchers turned on the audio equipment, containing recordings of human voices. Researchers then captured the lion's responses through hidden camera.

“We exposed pumas in the Santa Cruz mountains to the sound of human voices to see if they would react with fear and flee, and the results were striking: They were definitely afraid of humans,” said lead researcher Justine Smith from UC Berkeley.

“We found that pumas almost always ran from the sound of humans – and almost never ran from the sound of frogs. In 29 experiments involving 17 pumas, the pumas fled in 83 percent of cases as soon as it heard human voices, and only once upon hearing frogs.”

Researchers also found that the fear of human presence also changed mountain lions’ eating behavior. The finding could have crucial implications for their population in human-dominated landscapes where human-puma encounters are relatively frequent.

“We found that pumas took longer to return to their kills after hearing people, and subsequently reduced their feeding on kills by about half," said Smith. "Those behavioral changes are significant, as our previous work has shown that they cause pumas to increase their kill rates by 36 percent in areas with high human activity."

This study is the first to show to determine the fear of humans on the behavior of large of carnivores like mountain lions.

“Fear is the mechanism behind an ecological cascade that goes from humans to pumas to increased puma predation on deer," said co-author Chris Wilmer, a professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz "We're seeing that human disturbance—beyond hunting—may alter the ecological role of large carnivores. As we encroach on lion habitat, our presence will likely affect the link between top predators and their prey."

This story may contain affiliate links.


Find rare products online! Get the free Tracker App now.

Download the free Tracker app now to get in-stock alerts on Pomsies, Oculus Go, SNES Classic and more.

Latest News


The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




comments powered by Disqus