Researchers placed cameras and motion-activated sound equipment that played recordings of Limbaugh and Maddow talking as well as croaking Pacific tree frogs.
After a total of 29 experiments featuring 17 different mountain lions, researchers found the mountain lions ran away from the sounds of Limbaugh and Maddow talking 83 percent of the time and fled from the frog sounds only once.
“People allude to this idea all the time — that mountain lions are more afraid of us than we are of them. But science has never shown that before,” UC Santa Cruz environmental studies professor Chris Wilmers said. “When people go out hiking, some have a fear that mountain lions are going to attack them. But it turns out that mountain lions are quite afraid of people.”
Researchers said they chose the political commentary from Limbaugh and Maddow due to the quality of the recordings, but said the big cats ran away from the sound of the voices regardless of the speaker’s politics.
“Pumas are nonpartisan in their hatred of American politics,” researcher Justine smith said.
Lynn Cullens, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, hopes the research can help diminish the fear of mountain lions and develop technology to prevent them from wandering into residential areas.
“It’s rational to be afraid of an animal that could do damage to you,” she said. “But it’s important to put that in perspective. If you normally take a hike in the woods with your friend or your spouse in the evening, the risk of being attacked by a mountain lion is so low that the risk is greater to your health if you don’t take your walk.”