Officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said the animals were a "clear and present danger" to the public
Three mountain lions were killed this week after officials said they had fed on human remains that were found on a canyon trail in Arizona.
The remains of the unidentified human victim were discovered on Monday, just 150 feet from Pima Canyon Trail near Tucson, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
AZGFD officials told NBC affiliate KVOA in Tucson that they had to kill the wild animals that same day due to their “abnormal” and dangerous behavior, despite the fact they did not believe the mountain lions were responsible for the person’s death.
“Mountain lions are not routinely scavengers. A mountain lion eating human remains is abnormal behavior. Those that do are more likely to attack a human being in the future,” AZGFD Regional Supervisor Raul Vega told the local outlet.
“In addition, they did so 50 yards from a popular hiking trail and within sight of homes, and repeatedly showed no fear of responding officers,” Vega added. “They were a clear and present danger to public safety.”
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department confirmed in a press release that deputies responded to the scene on Monday to investigate “an incident” on the Pima Canyon Trail. After discovering the human remains, officers shut down the trail.
Since then, the Sheriff’s Department has been working with the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner and AZGFD to determine what happened to cause the victim’s death.
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The mountain lions are now being preserved in the death investigation as potential evidence, KVOA reports. An autopsy of the victim is also scheduled for Thursday.
Mountain lions are currently considered a threatened species due to unsustainable hunting, habitat destruction, and conflicts with livestock, according to the National Wildlife Conservation.
The animals, which can weigh anywhere from 64 to 220 pounds, are carnivores and typically eat deer, smaller animals, and, when necessary, insects.