A mountain lion crosses a side road, heading toward the Cactus Picnic Area. Jay Carey caught the cat on cellphone video Tuesday.


Tucson residents Jay and Nancy Carey had a thrilling experience while walking in Sabino Canyon on Tuesday morning: the sight of a mountain lion crossing a road in front of them.

What's more, Jay caught the big cat on video with his cellphone camera.

"We were walking up the tram road and saw the lion cross the road," he said. "We realized it was heading toward the Cactus Picnic Area," where a student group was to hold an event that morning.

The Careys left the main road and followed a side road toward the picnic area to alert people there - and Jay had his camera at the ready.

"As we were walking on that road, we saw two rabbits spooked from the brush," he said. "We could see it (the lion) in the brush, and then it crossed the road in front of us."

The camera caught the critter almost slinking across the road, and Jay captured a still photo from the video.

"It's the first time I've seen a mountain lion (in the wild) in my life," he said. "It wasn't aggressive, at least toward us."

Nancy, who is a member of the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, and Jay later reported the incident to U.S. Forest Service authorities.

Sightings of mountain lions in the canyon northeast of Tucson have been fairly common in recent years, but getting video of the fast-moving critters is much less common.

On StarNet: See the video of the mountain lion in Sabino Canyon at azstarnet.com/multimedia

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz