Arizona wildlife officers kill 3 aggressive mountain lions

May 26, 2023, 9:00 AM

A sign warns campers and hikers about mountain lions. Arizona wildlife officers killed three mounta...

(Arizona Game and Fish Department Photo)

(Arizona Game and Fish Department Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona wildlife officers killed three mountain lions this week after the big cats were deemed a threat to public safety.

The mountain lions are believed to have killed several pet dogs in Prescott, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) announced Thursday.

The predators, which rarely attack people, also exhibited aggression and a lack of fear toward humans. Relocating them wasn’t an option because it would have moved the threat to a different community, AZGFD said.

Officers killed an adult female mountain lion on Sunday after a northwest Prescott resident reported that it attacked his dog. The man also said another mountain lion showed aggression toward him.

The two other mountain lions killed this week, one Tuesday and the other Wednesday, are believed to be adult-sized offspring of first one.

They were among a group of four mountain lions the had been displaying unacceptable behavior around Prescott for several weeks. AZGFD officers are searching the area for the fourth big cat. Members of the public can report sightings to 623-236-7201.

“These are never easy decisions on our part. As wildlife biologists, we dedicate our careers to managing for healthy and robust wildlife populations, and the last thing we want to do is put an animal down,” Karen Klima, AZGFD Kingman regional supervisor, said in a press release.

“But public safety is our top priority, and this situation had risen to a level where there was a risk to the community and we had to act.”

Mountain lions, also called cougars, grow to between 75 and 150 pounds and have extensive ranges in Arizona’s desert and forested mountain areas. While attacks are rare, they are capable of seriously injuring or killing a human.

In March, a mountain lion attacked a man who was camping on the edge of the Salt River in Gila County during a rafting trip. A group of 10 rafters fought off the animal with their paddles and reached safety on their rafts.

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Arizona wildlife officers kill 3 aggressive mountain lions