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Mountain lion suspected in attack found, killed near Prescott

Posted in: News Media
Jun 11, 2010
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KINGMAN, Ariz. –– The Arizona Game and Fish Department today found and killed a mountain lion in the direct vicinity of a suspected attack involving a Prescott-area man on Sunday night.

The mountain lion was found less than 1/2 mile from the house where the reported attack occurred near Walker, southeast of Prescott.

The lion was estimated to be a 6-to-7-year-old female weighing approximately 75 pounds. The size of the lion is consistent with the tracks found at the attack site. A full necropsy will be done on the animal and the head will be submitted for rabies testing to help determine if disease or other physical ailment influenced the animal’s behavior.

“There’s really no way to be 100 percent certain this is the responsible animal without any material to submit for DNA testing,” said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish Kingman office. “However, the house where the reported attack took place was visible from the location where this mountain lion was removed.”

Game and Fish will continue to monitor the neighborhood for lion activity as a public safety precaution.

The Game and Fish wildlife-human conflict policy, developed with extensive public input, provides guidance for the department when responding to reports of wildlife threatening or harming people or causing property damage.

“An attack by a predatory animal is not something you take lightly,” said Jeff Pebworth, wildlife program manager in Kingman. “Public safety needs to be a priority in a case like this and our protocol is clear in regards to action. Had this mountain lion left the area, it’s possible we wouldn’t have heard anything else about this incident.”

The suspected mountain lion attack occurred on Sunday night and Game and Fish received the call and began investigating the scene on Monday morning. An initial hunt for the lion was called off on Tuesday afternoon because dogs were unable to pick up a scent and the terrain made it difficult to track.

Following a separate report of a sighting on Wednesday morning, Game and Fish returned to the scene near the Snow Drift Mine area in Walker and began searching on Thursday morning. Dogs did track a lion’s movements around the area but did not locate the mountain lion. On Friday morning the lion was located and lethally removed.

“Mountain lion attacks are rare,” Mocarski said.

“Most reports we receive involve a sighting, with a mountain lion passing through an area,” he explained. “These types of situations are not unusual. However, following this suspected attack and subsequent calls from neighbors, this mountain lion was remaining in close proximity to a number of homes.”

With a string of recent wildlife calls throughout Arizona, Mocarski said it’s important the public understand this won’t be the last incident, and people should be keenly aware of their own behavior to help minimize interaction with wildlife. He said putting out food and water to attract wildlife can have dire consequences for animals.

“It’s the food chain,” Mocarski said. “When people feed deer and javelina, predatory animals can follow. Deer are the favorite food of the mountain lion. If there is an easy food source, there’s little reason for a predatory animal to move out.”

He said something as simple as bird seed on the ground can set off a chain of events that’ll lead to unwanted encounters for those feeding or unknowing neighbors.

“Javelina will gobble up bird seed and it can also bring in a number of smaller mammals,” Mocarski said. “If you put out seed, keep it off the ground and use a non-spill feeder. This isn’t only about wildlife, but being respectful of your neighbors.”

Pebworth offered some advice in the event of an encounter with a mountain lion.

“Don’t run,” he explained. “Running triggers the predatory instinct. Think of a house cat when you pull a piece of string. It’ll leap into action.”

In the event of an encounter, Pebworth said: “Stand tall, make a lot of noise, throw things if something can be reached without bending down, and, if all else fails, fight back with anything at your disposal.”

To learn more about mountain lions and other predatory animals and what you can do to prevent an encounter, visit the Arizona Game and Fish website at www.azgfd.gov/urbanwildlife.

To report a lion sighting, contact the Game and Fish office in Kingman at (928) 692-7700 during office hours and (800) 352-0700 after hours.

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