Above: An adult mountain lion may be 30 inches at the shoulder and 8 feet in length.
Sedona, AZ: A mountain lion was recently spotted crossing a driveway in a residential neighborhood in West Sedona, near Soldier's Pass Rd and State Route 89A. It was late afternoon and the big cat was only about 75 feet away from the witness.
According to Arizona Fish and Game, there are about 10 to 20 mountain lion sightings every year in Sedona.
An adult mountain lion (also referred to as a "puma" or "cougar") stands about 30 inches in height at the shoulder and is approximately 8 feet long from nose to tail. About one-third of the animal's length is tail. Mountain lions usually weigh between 75 to 175 pounds, with the largest ever documented weighing in at 276 pounds!
Mountain lions prefer deer as prey, although they also eat smaller animals such as javelinas, coyotes, porcupines, rabbits, and raccoons. They usually hunt at night or during the hours of dawn and dusk.
A mountain lion crouches quietly in the red rocks of Sedona. Can you spot it? See the close-up view, next photo.
Mountain lion attacks on people are rare; in fact, fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare and occur much less frequently than fatal dog attacks, fatal snake bites, fatal lightning strikes, or fatal bee stings. However, a little knowledge may prove valuable when it comes to safety in the great outdoors.
When walking, hiking or biking in mountain lion territory, it's best to go in groups and make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising one. A sturdy walking stick may be good to have with you. Make sure children are close and within sight at all times.
Be cautious walking pets near wilderness boundaries; mountain lions have been known to prey on coyotes and may kill domestic dogs.
Close-up: This mountain lion (not the same as the one seen this month) was sighted for a few days in Sedona, at the same time deer were seen feeding in the same area. When the deer left, so did the mountain lion.
If you encounter a mountain lion in the wild, experts offer the following advice:
- Stay calm. Under no circumstances should you approach the mountain lion. Don't turn your back on it; instead, stop and back away slowly if you can do so safely. Don't run, as this could stimulate the lion's instinct to chase and attack.
- Do everything you can to appear larger. Raise your arms or open your jacket if you’re wearing one. If small children are with you, pick them up so they won’t panic and run.
In the event a mountain lion behaves aggressively or begins to approach you, throw stones or branches—basically anything you can access quickly—without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and shout loudly, in a menacing tone. You want to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may, in fact, be a danger to it.
Below: map showing West Sedona neighborhood where a mountain lion was spotted.
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Photo credits: Top photo, copyright Canstock.com.
Second and third photo, courtesy of Sedona resident, Linda Vernier.