In states where hunting cougars is legal, the sport is regulated by the length of the season, the number of people permitted to hunt and limits on how many mountain lions are allowed to be killed, he said. Despite the regulation, mountain lions are still continuing to be killed in "greater and greater" numbers, Cullens said. This could be detrimental because hunters are searching for the big prize -- often a mature, adult cat -- leaving the juvenile lions to take residence in what used to be the adults' territory, the experts said.
Robert Wielgus, former director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, found through 20 years of research that increased hunting for cougars resulted in increased immigration by young cougars, most of them teenage males. Younger cats haven't learned how to hunt as proficiently as their adult counterparts, leading them to make mistakes and sometimes mistake a human for food, Williams said.
The juvenile lions are often the ones wreaking havoc in human communities, attacking pets and livestock, he added.
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Juvenile cougars were also responsible for the attacks that garnered national attention in recent months. On the flip side, Wielgus found that decreased hunting resulted in decreased immigration and fewer complaints, he said. The trick is to keep the equilibrium of hunting to population growth. In addition, California, which does not permit sport hunting of cougars at all, has the lowest incidents per capita of human-cougar conflict, Wielgus said. Even still, attacks by mountain lions are still incredibly rare, according to the experts. In the past years, there have been fewer than 20 human fatalities as a result of cougar attacks, Cullens said.
Williams described the risk of being attacked by cougars as "extremely low. Because technology and communication have improved dramatically, we are becoming increasingly more aware of the presence of cougars near human residences, the experts said. In addition to people having access to cameras at all times, surveillance cameras attached to properties also capture the cats as they roam residential neighborhoods, Cullens said.
In addition, the advent of social media allows people to share these images to a wide audience, she said. And once people are aware that the cats are near, they'll start to see them more. The "cryptic animals" are the "ghosts" of the animal kingdom, Williams said. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation.
Give them a way to escape. Talk calmly yet firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright. Raise your arms.
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Open your jacket if you're wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may, in fact, be a danger to the lion. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. Target sensitive areas like the eyes and nose. Remain standing or try to get back up. All rights reserved. Interested in Animals? MORE: Trail runner describes near-deadly mountain lion attack: 'One of my worst fears was confirmed'.
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See also: Few people have walked on Earth's newest island. The Australian Museum in Sydney has a ranking of Australia's most dangerous animals based on the level of threat they pose, combined with how likely an unlucky punter is to encounter one in the wild. While many of the usual suspects are there, you might be surprised to find the humble honey bee features high up on the list. Martyn Robinson, a naturalist at the Australian Museum, thinks the threat from creatures that bite and sting may be overblown compared to the threat from moving vehicles.
Still, if you plan to walk or swim in the land Down Under, here is a list of the 10 most dangerous animals you should be worried about. Keep it handy. Highly dangerous, the box jellyfish is usually found in northern Australia during the warmer months — exactly when you want to swim. They're called box jellyfish because their bell — the top of the jellyfish — has four corners, as well as clusters of trailing, stinging tentacles that can stretch more than two metres 6. Human encounters occur most often when the box jellyfish comes close to shore to breed in estuaries.
If you're in the murky water and brush against one, you can easily be stung. How to know if it's got you: A box jellyfish sting can be unbelievably painful, Robinson said. The venom is designed to paralyse fish, so it immobilises your nerves and affects breathing and movement.
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A large dose can cause cardiac arrest and death within minutes. The humble honey bee, which is not native to Australia, comes second on the list because it's both common and deadly to small subset of people.
Being stung by or so honey bees could put anyone at risk of a fatality, but for those who are highly-allergic, even a single sting can be a life threatening situation. How to know if it's got you: You'll suffer a sharp, burning pain and minor swelling, unless you're allergic, in which case a sting could cause swelling and severe breathing difficulties, among other symptoms.
A type of small box jellyfish, the Irukandji jellyfish can be the size of a finger nail in the bell, and its tentacles can be up to one metre 3.
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Scientists are not certain of the full range of locations where they occur, Robinson said, but there have been remarkably similar stings along the Australian coastline. While the box jellyfish is usually found in shallow water, the Irukandji jellyfish is most often in deep water. How to know if it's got you: Getting stung by these little buggers can bring on Irukandji syndrome.
Taking about 30 minutes to set in, the syndrome can be marked by severe lower back pain, cramps, sweating, anxiety, nausea and other, more fatal, symptoms. Found worldwide in coastal waters, you're most likely to come across the bull shark in estuaries, harbours and rivers. It's a very good scavenger, as well as a predator, Robinson said, so you certainly don't want to be swimming near any dead whale carcasses. It's probably responsible for most of the dogs that go missing from the water, he added.
The brown snake group is likely responsible for the most snake bite fatalities of any Australian snake genus, Robinson said, probably because the species is found all over Australia.
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Usually more than one metre 3. How to know if it's got you: According to the Australian Museum, the eastern brown snake's bite can initially be painless and difficult to detect. That's a problem, because if bitten, you'll need medical attention straight away. Its venom can result in eventual paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding. Living in northern Australia, saltwater crocodiles can be found in the ocean, but they are more likely to be in estuaries, and occasionally, freshwater.