Sabino Canyon re-opening highlights mountain lion awareness - Tucson News Now

Sabino Canyon re-opening highlights mountain lion awareness

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A hiker who encountered a mountain lion along a popular trail may have successfully avoided an attack by removing his sun glasses.

The trail at Sabino Canyon is expected to re-open tomorrow.

When approached by animals on the trails, you're supposed to wave your arms and make a lot of noise.

That's what one hiker did but it wasn't working. It turned out that his sunglasses made the difference between life and death.

Arizona Game and Fish tracks mountain lion activity. The agency receives up to 100 reports of sightings every year.

But an encounter last week involving a hiker near Hutch's pool raised serious concerns.

"The mountain lion was asleep and startled by his approach, moved off about 15 yards, and then started to move toward the hiker," said Mark Hart with Game and Fish.

The hiker yelled at the cat and waved his arms. The animal continued to approach until the man took off his sun glasses.

"They eye contact basically sends a message that I'm not afraid, I'm going to stand my ground, and if you'll notice, I'm bigger than you."

It's unclear if the hiker's direct eye contact is the reason the mountain lion decided to turn away, but Sabino Canyon hikers are taking note.

"It's worth a try though, if they're not going away," said Guy Petersen, a nearby biker.
Kevin Johnson/Hiker

"That's something new to me and very interesting," hiker Kevin Johnson said.

"In their eyes we're animals, and animals stare each other down," another hiker, Liz Kinsworthy said.

Game and Fish says we can expect more run-ins with wildlife as animals go out in search of food and water in the dry summer months.

"The mountain lion population is extremely healthy.  Just because you haven't seen a mountain lion, it doesn't mean one hasn't seen you."

A similar incident happened back in February at Saguaro Park East and that trail was closed temporarily.

To report mountain lion sightings and encounters, contact the Game anf Fish hotline at (800) 352-0700.

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