Mountain lion attacks rafter before others fight back with paddles, AZ officials say

Rafters used their paddles to fight off a mountain lion attacking a 64-year-old man on the Salt River, Arizona officials reported.

The attack took place Thursday, March 16, when the mountain lion attacked a rafting group who were camped along the river, Gila County Animal Care & Control officers said in a news release.

About 10 other rafters kept the mountain lion at bay while others fled to their rafts, the release said. Officials did not reveal the extent of the man’s injuries.

Hunters with dogs are now looking for the mountain lion, officials said.

The Salt River runs east of Phoenix.

They asked anyone with information to call 928-425-5882.

What to do if you encounter a mountain lion

The U.S. Forest Service advises that most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation and should be given an escape route. Here are some other safety tips:

  • Do not hike alone, and avoid hiking at dawn or dusk.

  • Never approach a mountain lion while it’s feeding or with kittens.

  • Do not run. Remain calm, and hold your ground or back away slowly.

  • Continue facing the animal and keep eye contact.

  • Try to appear larger by standing up straight, raising your arms and opening your jacket.

  • If you have small children or pets, try to pick them up without looking away or bending over. Bending or crouching can make you look like a prey animal.

  • If the lion becomes aggressive, wave your arms and speak loudly in a firm voice.

  • If attacked, remain standing to protect your head and neck. Fight back.

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