Death by Mountain Lion


People ask me if I’m afraid to live with my kids out in the woods with all the dangers. Aren’t I afraid of mountain lions? I guess people don’t stop to think how much more danger they put their kids in by driving them to soccer practice.

In fact, nobody, not one single person, has been attacked by a mountain lion in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1908. Before I die, I hope to witness the elusive majesty that is the mountain lion.

Here are some stats from the Felidae Conservation Fund to give you pause. You are:

300 times more likely to be killed by a domestic dog.

500 times more likely to drown in your own bathtub.

2500 times more likely to die from an accidental fall.

7000 times more likely to die in a vehicle crash.

It is more dangerous to walk the streets in any U.S. city at night than it is to live and hike in mountain lion country.

This is how I think about it:

I want to die by mountain lion.

I want to die jumping and waving my arms and shouting, “Go away,” at death.

I want to die by rattlesnake, in a pain that says I’m still alive up to the very last.

I’ll take death by exposure—to my place in the universe under all those stars that hide themselves from the city.

Let me go by earthquake, swallowed by eons of mountain rubble, clutching my children as we exhale our last breath together.

Don’t let me die by rush hour minivan.

Or nursing home boredom.

Or Alzheimer’s fog.

Or if I must, let me be babbling again about that one time I fought off the mountain lion, while the smiling nurse says, “Of course you did, Mrs. Rigoni,” and pat-pats my hand where she can’t see the scar.


5 thoughts on “Death by Mountain Lion

  1. Yeah, I see you’re point: attack is unlikely. It is not unheard of, however:

    That’s the image (Nor. Cal, 2008) I replay in my mind of a mountain lion attack, and it scares the crap out of me. That being said, if it doesn’t scare you guys, that’s good, because living in fear with your family is no way to live. We’ll still come visit (someday, I promise!!).


    1. Guess because it wasn’t in the SF Bay area, they weren’t counting that in the statistics. I do know that in SoCal, there are more reports of attacks because of the encroachment on cougar territory. Out here, there are tons of deer, which are really what they’re looking for, so I feel like they have plenty of tastier options. Again, I’m not saying it’s not possible. I’m just saying it’s so not likely, and we put our kids in far more dangerous situations every day without even blinking. I’ll make sure there are plenty of deer around before you head over.


  2. I love this, Jacki!!!! When I was doing a lot of open water swimming, people asked me if I was afraid of sharks. Well, yes! But, do we let that fear keep us from doing cool stuff and living the life before us? I sure hope not. And do I want my kids to live ruled by their fear of what might happen? NO! So, I want to model that. While we don’t live in the woods, we’re in the woods- hike and backpack in the woods all the time. I’d much rather my kids have wilderness smarts and know what to do if they encounter a rattlesnake or a mountain lion or a bear than to just stay out of the wilderness because of what might happen.


  3. Wow, Robin. Open water swimming sounds amazing. I do agree with you that we model fear and/or fearlessness for our kids. What a great way to walk the talk. Or swim the talk, as the case may be!


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