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 is known as the Florida panther.
A total of 125 attacks, 27 of which are fatal, have been documented in North America in the past 100 years. 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.
"Killed by a Cougar.— The Oregon Harold of August 24th contains the following: On the 21st instant, a little child three years old, of Mr. Patton, living on Rear Creek, three miles west of the Long Tom, in Lane county, was killed by a cougar.. The child was playing in the yard and within, ten feet of the door of the dwelling, when the cougar sprang upon it from the bushes which grew near the house. The mother seeing the beast drag her child towards the timber, seized a stick and started in pursuit. She attacked the cougar with such resolution that it dropped its burden, and the heroic woman taking the lifeless body under one arm and her only remaining child under the other, made her way to a neighbor's house, a mile and a half distant. Mr. Patton was absent from home at the time." Lane County, Oregon
Attacked by a cougar east of the Santa Caterina Landing in Baja California.
A. C. Marklein, age unknown, male
March 1, 1904
Killed by a cougar in Bushy Cane Creek Magoffin County, Kentucky. A. C. Marklein and A friend named McCarty both from New York state were attacked. A. C. Marklein received fatal injuries while McCarty was attacked but survived.
Killed by a cougar near Balboa, California. The boy was attacked while in a tent. News stories variously reported his age as 2 and 14. It was reported in a local paper the following day that the story was a hoax. The paper confirmed the local coroner never received a report of a child suffering a violent death in this manner.
Isola Kennedy, 38, female; Earl Wilson, 10, male
July 5, 1909
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. His family Terri, Gary and Dona started the Mark J. Reynolds Memorial "Children's First Bike Fund" which provides bicycles and helmets to underprivileged children.
Robert Nawojski, 55, male
June 24, 2008
Searchers found his partially devoured body on this date near his mobile home in Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Investigators concluded that he had been attacked, killed and eaten by a cougar several days earlier.