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Saguaro National Park employee recovering after being bucked off a mule, airlift rescue

An employee of Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, had to be rescued from the Rincon Mountains after being bucked off a mule earlier this week.

The park employee was injured at Manning Camp, which is 9 miles away from any park facilities. Cam Juarez, the public information officer for Saguaro National Park, says because the area is so remote, the employee had to be airlifted to safety.

"Saguaro National Park, the east district is about 80 percent wilderness area, wilderness area meaning we have a lot of restrictions that keep us from using any kind of motorized vehicle in that vicinity," Juarez said.

Mules are a key component to Saguaro National Park's operations. The mule team is hard at work in the summer months delivering water and supplies. While some mules are easy to manage, others are more stubborn, and many are easily startled.

"A lot of things on the trail can spook them, from hikers to snakes or other wilderness animals in the area or even some floating balloon or something that ends up on a branch," Juarez said.

The employee is currently in stable condition. There were no details about what type of injuries the employee sustained.

Naomi DuBovis is an intern at KJZZ. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School. She has worked as a producer and anchor at Blaze Radio ASU and a podcast reporter at the State Press. She has also written for Downtown Devil. She is from Phoenix, and her favorite pastimes include reading, singing and playing piano.