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Sat, Dec. 14

Game & Fish officials warn against feeding wildlife

KINGMAN – Arizona Game and Fish biologists are urging people in the Hualapai Mountain community of Pine Lake, south of Kingman, to stop feeding wildlife.

Last week a mountain lion killed two mule deer about a quarter-mile from each other in the span of three days.

One deer was found in a resident's driveway, said Jeff Pebworth, a Kingman regional biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

"What residents don't realize is that when they feed deer, those animals will attract predators such as mountain lions to the area as well," Pebworth said.

A photo, taken by a motion-sensitive surveillance camera positioned in a tree, caught the image of the cougar as it returned later that evening to consume the kill.

There have also been reports of missing pets, although it is not known if the disappearances are a result of a cougar.

"We need people to stop providing an easy food source for mountain lions," Pebworth said.

"These kinds of situations always have the potential to escalate, but the opportunity exists to alter the behavior of this predator before it becomes a major problem."

Deer are a primary food source for mountain lions.

By feeding such wildlife, individuals are attracting the large predator into the community.

Game and Fish biologists explain that cougars will move to an area with an abundant food source, and when people feed wildlife, it attracts deer, mountain lions and other wild animals.

Wildlife manager Clint Adams investigated both incidents and determined both deaths were the result of a mountain lion attack.

Investigation into the most recent attack indicates the deer was killed in a parking lot and dragged to a residence.

Adams adds that it is too early to determine if this is the work of one or more cougars, but believes both kills were the result of the same cat.

Along with halting feeding efforts, Game and Fish officials also recommend residents bring their pets indoors, especially during the evening and early morning hours when mountain lions are most active.

In addition, do not leave small children unattended outdoors.

A major concern is the location of the kills on personal property, Pepworth said.

"It is possible this mountain lion has lost its fear of being in proximity to people and is becoming comfortable in a human environment," he said.

"We have to think about changing the behavior of a cougar before we have problems, not after."

Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Kingman regional office, emphasizes that feeding is never personal with a mountain lion.

"It's difficult to blame a mountain lion for the behavior of people," Mocarski says.

"When predators have depleted one food source, they seek out another.

It's survival.

It is important to remove the food source quickly before this lion becomes accustomed to prowling a specific area."

If anyone encounters a fresh kill, they are urged to stay away from the kill site.

Mountain lions will return to kill sites to feed and any activity around the site can be viewed as a threat.

Stay indoors and immediately contact the Kingman Game and Fish office at 692-7700.

In 2000, a mountain lion was seen by several residents on Cactus Wren Road.

In years past, Meadview and Dolan Springs residents have also reported mountain lion sightings, and in 1998 Hualapai Mountain residents had problems with one of more cougars attacking dogs.

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