Hiker, mountain lion survive close encounter on Tucson trail

Trekker made all the right moves on Catalinas trail
2013-06-08T00:00:00Z 2013-06-08T08:32:12Z Hiker, mountain lion survive close encounter on Tucson trailDoug Kreutz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Lose the sunglasses if you find yourself face to face with a mountain lion in the wild.

That's the possible take-home message from a recent close encounter between a hiker and a lion.

The incident began when a hiker on a trail in the Catalina Mountains "came within 10 feet of a sleeping mountain lion in the afternoon" on May 30, said Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

"The lion lunged off the trail about 15 yards from the hiker, but then started to approach by about five yards," Hart said.

He said the hiker did "everything right" immediately - with one possibly critical exception.

"He yelled at the lion and clanked his hiking sticks together," Hart said. But the hiker failed to establish eye contact with the lion - an action highly advised by experts - because he was wearing sunglasses.

Hart said the hiker "felt the lion was sizing him up - and at that point he took his sunglasses off" and established eye contact.

"Then the lion stopped its approach," Hart said. "It finally moved off" without attacking.

U.S. Forest Service officials temporarily closed portions of the trail - the West Fork Trail north of Sabino Canyon - after the incident. The trail was reopened Friday.

"The lion lunged off the trail about 15 yards from the hiker, but then started to approach by about five yards."

Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department

If you see a lion

Here's advice from the Arizona Game and Fish Department on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion:

• Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation.

• Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly.

• Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate its instinct to chase.

• Stand and face the animal.

• Make eye contact.

• Appear larger by raising your arms or opening your jacket. Throw stones or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Maintain eye contact and slowly back away.

• Fight back if attacked. Many people have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks and bare hands.

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

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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