How you do you deal with a lion in the wilds of Southern Indiana?

Please bear with me. The question isn’t as dumb as it sounds.

I live 'way out in the country in southern Indiana. Last night, my neighbor, the one who lives a quarter-mile down my hill, stopped by and told me he is now keeping a lion, a cougar and a lynx on his property. Apparently, they are well away from the road because I haven’t seen them.

I would like for some of you zoologists to tell me what to do if I come across an escaped lion in the woods or meadows, or refer me to some knowledgeable books or web sites. Do you hold your ground (I’ve read that fleeing, which would be my first through hundredth choices, triggers the predator instinct in lions even if they aren’t hungry) or kiss your ass goodbye?

Can you blow off a lion’s head with a .44-Magnum or a .357-Magnum? Afraid all the weapons I have are a .22-caliber rifle and a 20-guage shotgun, but I think a friend will sell me a powerful handgun at a reasonable price.

Thanx. I really appreciate any answers I receive.

If you believe the books on big-game hunting in Africa, you won’t want to be out with no pistol. Lion hunters generally used a rifle of at least .30 caliber with a reasonably powerful cartridge.

Cats typically hunt by stalking and are quite good at it – they can conceal themselves behind things you’d swear aren’t nearly big enough. The effect is that attacks come suddenly, without warning, from close range. You’d need to be quite a good shot and able to get on target very quickly to have a decent chance.

I’d say this is not a good do-it-yourself project. If you think a lion is loose and you need protection from it, best hand the problem to the local police.

Thanx, Xema. Apparently a pistol is useless; at least I’ve saved a few bucks.

I don’t think the lion is loose, but I wonder about his security. I remember a few years back when his llama got out a couple of times and visited me with hilarious results.

Check immediately with the nearest police authorities. In nearly every jurisdiction, rural or urban, in this country, there are laws, usually state statutes, governing what you must do to maintain a large non-indigenous wild animal on your property. They are usually fairly stringently enforced when carnivores are in question.

Just the fact that you have concerns would mean that the police have grounds to check into this. And if he has had exotic animals escape in the past, it’s clear he’s not following whatever Indiana regulations call for.

There are almost certainly laws in Indiana regarding the keeping of animals like lions and such. You may want to discretely check with whoever deals with this if they have appropriate licensing. If not you might tip them off.

If you find yourself face-to-face with a lion you don’t have many options. If you have a suitably large weapon (definitely bigger than a .22) shoot it. If you have a chance to climb a tree that might work. I don’t believe lions can climb trees although realize they can jump quite high (and can quite possibly get you as you start to climb). DEFINITELY don’t run. Running absolutely has a very good chance of trigger the prey instinct and the lion will easily run you down and attack when it ctahces you. If you are unarmed with nowhere to go your best bet is to hold your ground and hope the lion isn’t hungry. If it charges you fall to he ground, play dead and pray you won’t really be dead in short order. There is no chance you can fight off a lion bare handed.

Cougars do occasionally attack people but most adult humans are not likely to be on their menu. There’s a fair chance it’ll give you a pass. Hold your ground and let it be on its way. If it does decide to go for you then see the paragraph above.

The lynx I wouldn’t worry about. I seriously doubt it’d have anything to do with you unless you messed with it.

This whole thing reminds me of an old joke. Don’t stop me if you’ve heard it before:

*Two hikers are trekking through the African savannah when a huge lion appears some distance ahead of them. The hikers stop nervously and one asks the other what they are going to do. The second hiker drops his pack, removes his hiking boots and starts to put on his sneakers. The first hiker, puzzled, tells his partner that he’s nuts if he thinks he can outrun a lion.

“I don’t have to outrun the lion,” the second hiker replies. “I just have to outrun you.”*

badda boom!

and I’m rooting for the LION!!! :smiley:

DO you have any idea how insaley paranoid you have just made this man? He won’t be able to go to the bathroom (voluntarily) without a couple of side-arms now.

This is a reference to relevant Indiana law.
I suggest a personal approach to start, rather than just calling the cops. Tell him you’re concerned, and ask 1) to see how they’re confined and 2) to see his license for keeping them.

Then decide whether to call a cop, a lawyer, a vet, a gun store, or a big game hunter. :stuck_out_tongue: Unless this guy gives off such strange vibes that you don’t feel safe visiting or calling.

IMHO, you shouldn’t be planning on carrying a cannon around at all times as a solution to this. Unless you’re really convinced these animals are safely and humanely confined, you should call in some authorities. Probably a county goverment amimal control office, here is a list that may have some relevant numbers

Actually if we are talking about an African Lion, they eat plenty of carrion, so I’m not sure playing dead is a good option. However the other bit of advice is exactly correct. NEVER RUN. NEVER TURN YOUR BACK. If you do either of those things, sheer instinct will take over and even the tamest big cat might go for you - I have a friend who saw just such a thing happen with a fairly “tame” captive cougar once.

If it is an escaped animal it is unlikely to be hungry/diseased ( assuming the authorities would be all over the place after a day or two ). Therefore the best option is probably to maintain eye contact and back slowly and carefully away. If it starts advancing, make yourself as big as possible and hold your ground. If it still keeps coming, make a lot of noise. Likely a captive animal is going to be more curious than aggressive, so don’t freak unless you have to.

But personally I wouldn’t be all that paranoid. If the guy has permits, they’re likely well-enclosed. If he doesn’t he won’t have them long anyway.

  • Tamerlane

Oh and Yojimbo’s advice sounds good. Check it out yourself to allay your fears. If he is responsible, he shouldn’t balk at such a reasonable request. If he’s not reasonable, call the cops.

  • Tamerlane

I’m a bit surprised by the “keep eye contact” thing. I’ve read that looking an animal in the eyes is often considered by said animal as a threat, and could induce it in attacking if it’s a predator, hence should be avoided. Does anybody has a final answer on this?

(Not that I expect that a lot of people would have tons of experience with facing large predators, but who knows?)

polycarp & yojimboguy: Thanx. I hadn’t thought of going for the police, because I have my own reasons for not wanting the fuzz around and because I don’t like our sheriff. I may pull a sneaky trick of telling this to my landlord. He doesn’t like our mutual neighbor and I imagine my landlord and landlady are considerably more worried than I am since they have two kids.
I am also a tad concerned about the animals. I don’t like the idea of keeping large animals in small cages. Let them roam free in Africa or Canada.
I think I will drop by next week with some beer as he also invited me to come get drunk with him and ask to see the lion to get an idea of its size and living conditions.

Whack-A-Mole: That’s a good joke. I once heard a version where the animal in question is a grizzly bear.

happyheathen: I love you, too.

Shagnasty: No, I’m not that paranoid yet. A couple of small cats keep me as a pet so I am familiar with their hunting techniques. Ironically, I watched my female cat “play” with a chipmunk Thursday afternoon.

Tamerlane and clairobscur: Thanx for your input also. This confirms what I have read in other sources.

Thanx, one and all. I really appreciate the help and input.

Actually, lions can climb trees quite well, but it has to be a fairly LARGE tree, as an adult male lion can weigh upwards of 500 pounds.

Ferrous, I don’t know if I would take this as option anyway. A lion can probably climb much better than I can.

Damn…I used to live in SW Indiana…there was/is a persistant rumor that a large cat of some kind lived west of my hometown(its probably 15milesx15miles of low population, mostly forest and below flood stage farmland)…in fact a coworker’s family farmed some of the land and swore that they had seen it several times…I thought maybe it was in the news when I read the OP.

JaxBeachBoy: It could be an Indiana bob cat, an extremely rare species, but they’re out there.
I’ve also heard legends of escaped panthers in several other counties, including Harrison and Crawford. I think it would be possible for an escaped big cat to live in southern Indiana as there is plenty of game and wooded cover.

From the Worst Case Scenario Survival Manual, I gleaned this information. With cougars, you want to make yourself seem as large as possible. Wave your jacket, yell, shout, wave your arms. Encourage the cat to think it will have to put up a fight to kill and eat you. Also, cougars rarely attack humans, although children have been targetted. I would imagine the same would work with lions. And finally, look behind your shower curtain every time you walk into your bathroom. Lions have been known to find your water main, squeeze into a tiny ball, and travel through your pipes and come out your showerhead to materialize in a 600lb mass of angry wet cat. Just letting you know.

In India, where tigers are a problem, the people that work in the forests wear masks on the back of their heads. The tigers like to sneak up on you when you are not looking, so this makes an attack from the rear less likely. Make sure it looks like a real human face with eyes (no holes). Supposedly figured out by scientists and so has a low UL factor.

Talk about obscure (generally) useless stuff one picks up.

Actually, this sin’t all that far fetched of an idea. Many animals in the animal kingdom have false eyespots, for numerous reasons. One very good reason, is to make the predator think that you are looking at it. Most stalk and lunge type preds prefer to wait until their’s prey attention is otherwise taken, and then go for the kill. To me, this is also why I would look a lion in the eye if I felt in danger, though, in all honesty, that’s a WAG, seeing as how I’ve never been on the angry end of a really large predacious land mammal. Honestly, my first two reactions would be to soil myself, and then pass out, but then again, maybe that’s just me.

A true big game rifle will set you back a bit of cash. But…a good 12 (or better yet 10) guage shotgun loaded with 1 oz slugs would make an impression at close range on any lion. Not into shotguns? Then you might look into getting a Marlin Guide Gun. Small, handy, quick shooting and about 3000 ft lbs of energy on tap, all for less than $500. If you really want a handgun, might I suggest something from Freedom Arms. Scroll down to the “Customer Handgun Trpohy” page for some pictures of a few very large animals taken with handguns, including rhino and lion.