Rafters fight off mountain lion attack with their paddles in Arizona
A New Mexico man is recovering after being attacked by a mountain lion in a remote area of an Arizona reservation, animal control officials said.
On March 16, a mountain lion approached a rafting group in a secluded area of the White Mountain Apache Reservation and attacked a 64-year-old man, Gila County Animal Care & Control program manager JC Castaneda said in a news release.
The attack took place “21 miles downstream from the Salt River bridge, on the White Mountain Apache Nation – which is the north side of the Salt River – in an especially remote area,” Castaneda said.
During the attack, 10 other rafters attempted to fight off the mountain lion using their paddles and eventually they were able to keep the cougar at bay as other campers headed to safety on their rafts, officials said.
The victim has recovered from the attack and is “doing well- but still very sore from the attack,” Castaneda said.
Officials are urging caution as they continue to search for the mountain lion. The White Mountain Apache Tribe has sent a group of USDA hunters with hound dogs to track the cougar’s tracks from the location of the attack to another area, in the hopes of locating the mountain lion, which as of Wednesday has not been located, according to Castaneda.