Hikers and outdoors enthusiasts are being warned about mountain lion activity at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve in Southern Arizona.
The Nature Conservancy offered several tips about how to handle an encounter with a mountain lion.
Here is The Nature Conservancy's news release:
Caution: Mountain Lion Spotted at Nature Preserve
PATAGONIA, AZ— The Nature Conservancy is alerting hikers and outdoor enthusiasts that a mountain lion has been spotted several times in recent weeks at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve in southern Arizona. Preserve staff are monitoring the situation and evaluating the lion's activity to determine if it has become habituated to people. Over time, habituation can cause a safety risk to people. Once wildlife becomes habituated to people, removal of the animal is one of the only options that remain.
To limit public safety risks periodic closures may occur, while lion activity continues. As we head into the weekend, here are pointers from the Arizona Game and Fish Department if you encounter a mountain lion:
· Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
· Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly.
· Do not run from a mountain lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase.
· Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.
· Appear larger by raising your arms or opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not easy prey and that you may be a danger to it.
· Maintain eye contact and slowly back away toward a building, vehicle, or busy area.
· Protect small children so they won't panic and run.
· Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, their bare hands, and even mountain bikes. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the animal.
Located between the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona, the preserve is home to some of the richest streamside habitat in the region, making it a great place for endangered fishes, birds and butterflies to call home. Thousands of people visit the preserve every year to go hiking, birding and wildlife watching.
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