This is a list of known or suspected fatal cougar attacks that occurred in North America by decade in chronological order. The cougar is also commonly known as mountain lion, puma, mountain cat, catamount, or panther. The sub-population in Florida, which is a population east of the Mississippi River, is known as the Florida panther. There are also documented presence of cougars in Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
At least 20 people in North America were killed by cougars between 1890 and 2011, including six in California. More than two-thirds of the Canadian fatalities occurred on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare and occur much less frequently than, fatal snake bites, fatal lightning strikes, or fatal bee stings. Children are particularly vulnerable. The majority of the child victims listed here were not accompanied by adults.
As with many predators, a cougar may attack if cornered, if a fleeing human stimulates their instinct to chase, or if a person "plays dead". Standing still however may cause the cougar to consider a person easy prey. Exaggerating the threat to the animal through intense eye contact, loud shouting, and any other action to appear larger and more menacing, may make the animal retreat. Fighting back with sticks and rocks, or even bare hands, is often effective in persuading an attacking cougar to disengage.
Rabid cougar attacked a woman and child in Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County, California. Both victims died from rabies, not from the physical injuries. This is the only instance of a double fatality and the only instance where the victims succumbed to disease rather than the injuries sustained in the attack.
Attacked and killed while mountain biking at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in southern Orange County, California. It is believed his chain fell off and the cougar attacked when he bent down to repair his bicycle.
Robert Nawojski, 55, male
June 24, 2008
Searchers found his body on this date near his mobile home in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Investigators concluded that he had been attacked and killed by a cougar several days earlier.