Prescott man says he was attacked by mountain lion

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on June 9, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 9 at 5:01 PM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Wildlife Services have called off the search for a mountain lion suspected of attacking a Prescott man Sunday night.

The suspected attack occurred near the Snow Drift Mine area in Walker.

Andy Bell, 30, said he was outside just after dark on Sunday when he heard some rustling in the bushes. His flashlight revealed what he believed to be a mountain lion about eight feet away.

Bell said as he ran for his home, he was attacked from behind near his truck. He believes the animal hit its head on the trailer hitch on the back of the truck. Bell rolled under the truck as the animal fled.

Wildlife Services attempted to track the mountain lion after partial tracks were found. Tracking dogs were unable to pick up a scent and the search was called off Tuesday morning.

"There were a lot of dog and vehicle tracks around the area and the landscape itself made it difficult to investigate," said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish Kingman office.

Bob Posey, regional supervisor in Kingman, said if the lion had been found it would have been killed because of the animal's immediate threat to public safety.

Bell was treated by a doctor for several injuries caused by the fall as well as a 2-inch scratch on his shoulder that he said came from one of the mountain lion's claws.

"This was the most terrifying moment of my life," Bell said. "I was just trying to get away as fast as I could."

Bell said he knew he shouldn't run, but that he was so close to his house his only thought was getting away.

"I was running as fast as I could downhill," he said. "It all happened so fast. I'm convinced it was the trailer hitch that saved my life."

Posey said mountain lion attacks on humans are rare and that running from the scene may have been a trigger to this suspected incident.

"Don't run," he said. "Running triggers the predatory instinct."

In the event of an encounter, Posey said, "Stand tall, make a lot of noise, throw things if something can be reached without bending down, and, if all else fails, fight back with anything at your disposal."

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