Mountain lions killed after series of pet deaths in Arizona
Three cougars have been killed after being found responsible for a string of pet deaths in Arizona.
Arizona Game & Fish (AZGFD) said in a statement that the trio of lions were all believed to have been involved in the killing of several dogs in a neighborhood in the city of Prescott over the past few weeks. The three lions, and another still at large, were also seen aggressive towards locals.
The decision was made to euthanize the lions after a man reported that the predators had attacked his dog and started acting aggressively towards him.
It is estimated that between 2,000 and 2,700 cougars live in Arizona, mostly in the mountains and rocky hills. Predators do not usually hunt humans, but they can sometimes act aggressively. The authorities take no chances with cougars who constantly display this type of behavior.
Officials said in a statement that as the lions have been seen in close proximity to homes and residents, it is clear that they are “less afraid of people”. This could explain the “aggressive or unacceptable behavior” of animals. For this reason, cougars have been considered a threat to public safety.
A lion killed on May 21 was a female estimated to be between 3 and 5 years old. The other two, killed on May 23 and 24, were possibly the offspring of the female. A hunt is still underway for the fourth mountain lion, AZGFD reported.
Relocation was not an option for these lions, AZGFD added. “These are never easy decisions on our part,” said AZGFD regional supervisor Karen Klima in a press release. “As wildlife biologists, we devote our careers to managing healthy and robust wildlife populations, and the last thing we want to do is put an animal down. But public safety is our top priority, and this situation reached such a level that it was a risk for the community and we had to act.”
It’s unclear exactly why some pumas become more aggressive than others, but it’s more likely if they’ve been fed by humans. Predators can get used to an easy meal and become bolder when approaching people.
The AZGFD noted that in March this year, a mountain lion attacked a man who was camping along the Salt River. The man survived, but the powerful predators have the potential to kill humans.
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