AZGFD and U.S. Forest Service advise on the dangers of mountain lions

Mountain Lion warnings

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The more times you take to the trails at Sabino Canyon, the more likely you are to come across wildlife.

"I'm out here every day," said Ben Markwart, who was running through the area on Wednesday.

Markwart isn't a stranger to Sabino Canyon.

His friend Kevin Cross joined him on Wednesday. Cross frequents the area a few times a week.

The list of the wildlife they've seen over the course of time can go on and on.

"Deer, coyote. I once saw a gila monster drinking from a puddle. That was pretty special. Bobcats," said Cross and Markwart.

Bobcats are often confused for mountain lions, according to Arizona Game and Fish.

Markwart is almost certain he once saw a mountain lion.

"I just walked backwards and snuck off. I didn't stay to find out," he said.

AZ Game and Fish told Tucson News Now there have been around 40 mountain lion sightings in southeastern Arizona since April.

Many of them are in the Sabino Canyon area.

Game and Fish officials said an older woman and her grandchild were stalked by one only miles from the visitor center.

"They had to yell and do other things and were forced to slowly back out of the area," explained Mark Hart, a public information officer for the AZGFD.

It's one reason why the department teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service.

Together they have created a video showing trail camera footage of mountain lions and a photo of a mountain lion ready to pounce, for example.

They hope by showing people this, they're educating them on what to do in a personal encounter.

"Stand up tall, arms over your head. Yell, throw objects on hand," said Hart.

Another thing to remember, if you're wearing sunglasses and you see a mountain lion -- be sure to take them off and make direct eye contact to let them know you're not prey.

One final tip from runners like Markwart.

"Give them the space that they need," he said.

It's something he's learned firsthand.

The full video from the USFS and AZGFD will be released on Friday at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center.

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