Rafters Use Paddles to Fight Off Mountain Lion That Attacked Man in Remote Area in Arizona

A group of 10 rafters helped fight off the animal as the rest of the group, including the victim, escaped, according to officials

Mountain Lion
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A mountain lion attack in a remote area of the White Mountain Apache Reservation has prompted warnings from Arizona officials.

According to a news release from Gila County Animal Care & Control, a 64-year-old man was attacked by a mountain lion while rafting roughly 20 miles downstream from the Salt River bridge in an "especially remote area" on March 16.

Ten other rafters fought off the lion using their paddles, and eventually, the animal was contained while the group escaped on their rafts.

Per Program Manager JC Castaneda, the victim of the attack is said to be doing well but is "very sore" from the incident. The man is a resident of New Mexico.

The attack prompted an increased presence of Gila County Animal Care & Control officers, San Carlos Game and Fish, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and Arizona Game and Fish in the area, per the release.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe has also sent a group of U.S. Department of Agriculture hunters with hound dogs to track the lion, but they have not found it as of earlier this week.

According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, attacks on humans are rare, but the organization advises people to be cautious when venturing into areas where they may be present.

"Avoid walking alone between dusk and dawn when lions are most active," they explained on their website. "Keep your children and pets close to you. Never approach or corner a mountain lion (or any wild animal). If you do encounter a mountain lion, STOP. DO NOT RUN. Unlike safety advice for encountering bears, do not act timid or play dead in front of a cat."

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In the news release, Castaneda emphasized avoiding encounters with wildlife. He advised keeping pets vaccinated against rabies and avoiding unknown animals that may have been previously exposed to the virus.

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