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Feb 4, 2013 6:56 PM by Lorraine Rivera

Mountain Lion sightings reported in Sabino Canyon

TUCSON - Sabino Canyon visitors are being reminded they are in mountain lion country after reports of possible sightings.

One of the confirmed sightings included a cell phone video recorded by a hiker last Tuesday. Jay Carey said he and his wife were walking along the tram road at about 9 a.m.

"While we were walking up the road we saw two rabbits spooked from the brush so at that point we looked over and saw the mountain lion in the brush," carey said. "We started to back up and I pulled out my cell phone and took video of the mountain lion in the brush. And after about a minute it ended up crossing the road. So you see that in the video."

Carey estimates he was about 40 feet away from the mountain lion and thinks they stared face-to-face for about a minute.

"When I made the noise the mountain lion looked at me and looked away and didn't seem to pay any attention to me."

He said it's a moment he and his wife will never forget, "I've never seen one outside of a zoo so it was fun to see one in the wild

Josh Taiz is a biologist with the Forest Service in the Santa Catalina district and said sightings happen frequently.

"Sabino Canyon is a wild land. But it's really sort of a wild land, urban interface with the high visitation that we have here it just sets everything up where it's likely that people are going to see lions," he said.

Based on the video Taiz cannot determine the sex of the lion but thinks it weighs between 80 and 90 pounds. He said Carey did the right thing by backing up and making noise to let the cat know they were nearby,"we prefer obviously if we didn't gather people around looking at them, the less human lion encounters the better for the lions."

According to Taiz between 40 and 100 possible mountain lion sightings are reported every year. He encourages anyone who thinks they may have seen a mountain lion to report it. You can call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (520) 628-5376, the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center front desk at (520) 749-8700, the Nogales Ranger District at (520) 281-2296 or the Coronado National Forest at (520) 388-8300.

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