Shy and elusive, people do not often meet mountain lions face to face. That doesn’t mean they are not present in the forests and neighborhoods of Prescott.

Joel Schossow and his family were enjoying Goldwater Lake at dusk this past Friday, March 24, when they saw something that froze them in their tracks.

They had been playing in the waterfall where the creek feeds into the lake. Heading back to the parking lot, Schossow thought the children, a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter, were within a safe distance.

“My daughter was little bit behind us, 6 to 10 feet. My wife looked around to check on her and saw the mountain lion coming straight at her. We froze,” Schossow said.

Then he and his wife started screaming and yelling, the kids were “crying like crazy.” Schossow said the lion was crouched down as if to attack, but then scampered back six feet before turning around again and looking at them.

“We picked up the kids and it started walking away, then it got closer and watched us the whole way back to the parking lot,” he said.

More info

Avoiding contact

Hike or walk in groups and make some noise when you’re outside. Supervise children, especially between dusk and dawn.

Keep domestic pets, poultry, goats and rabbits inside or in a secured enclosure with a sturdy roof. Walk your pets on a leash.

Don’t feed your pets outside. Don’t feed wildlife. It’s illegal.

Remove dense vegetation around your home.

What to do

If you do come close to a mountain lion, don’t run. Their instinct is to chase you.

Most will try to avoid you; give them a way to escape.

Stay calm, speak loudly and firmly. Stand and face the animal; make eye contact. Protect small children so they won’t panic and run.

Convince the lion you are not easy prey. Make yourself larger by raising your arms, spreading your jacket. Wave your arms slowly.

Throw stones, branches, whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back.

Slowly back away toward a building, vehicle or busy area. Don’t stop to take a photo.

Fight back if attacked. Mountain lions will try to bite the head or neck; try to remain standing and face the animal. Use whatever you can find to fight with – rocks, jackets, tools, even mountain bikes.