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Mountain lion spotted in Tuzigoot National Monument

Cameras have captured a mountain lion wandering the trails of Tuzigoot National Monument.

The large cats, which mainly eat elk and deer, are rare in Arizona, but have been known to dwell in the Verde Valley, including within the monument’s borders.

The latest sighting occurred in the Tavasci Marsh area.

“This wide-open area, being a marsh, has attracted wildlife for years,” said supervisory park ranger Paul Santellan. “And, because of that, mountain lions — they need water, they need food, so they’ve been a part of this park here for a very long time.”

Santellan said no incidents have occurred and explained that mountain lions generally try to avoid humans. But he added that people should be especially cautious around a mountain lion with cubs.

“They are more protective of their cub, and that’s when they can be more confrontational if they feel they are cornered or don’t have an exit,” he said.

Hikers who encounter mountain lions should not run, but instead make themselves look big and make lots of noise.

Santellan recommends checking the national monument’s social media pages prior to visiting.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.