Tranquilized mountain lion leaps over biologist and ricochets around canyon

(Image credit: Ian Williams Unsplash)

A wildlife biologist narrowly avoided being hit by a leaping mountain lion after hitting the animal with a tranquilizer dart as part of a monitoring program in Arizona. The biologist from Arizona Game and Fish Department was working together with volunteer houndsman Travis Legler to catch the animals and fit them with GPS tracking collars before releasing them.

Legler, who posted a video of the close call on YouTube, told Outdoor Life that he had cornered the mountain lion in a narrow slot canyon when he received a message from the biologist on his satellite communicator, asking whether he would be able to lend a hand that day.

Legler explained the situation, took his hounds back to his vehicle, and returned to the canyon with the biologist to tranquilize the big cat.

The biologist hit the cornered animal with a tranquilizer dart, but it took much longer than usual to have an effect. When hit, the mountain lion sprang from its perch, leaping over the biologist's head, and leapt around the canyon in a panic.

"Usually these drugs [have] a pretty good effect, and the way were set up, we figured she would fall asleep there," said Legler. "But she made up her own mind for us and that all changed."

The animal eventually went down after jumping to a lower ledge, and the two-man team was able to tag it before administering a reversing agent to wake it up. The process went smoothly, and the animal was unharmed.

Mountain lion safety

Attacks by mountain lions are rare, and the animals generally prefer to avoid humans, but if you know you there are likely to be mountain lions in the area, make sure you stay aware of your surroundings at all times when hiking or running and don't block out sounds with headphones. It's important to be particularly careful at dawn and dusk, when the big cats are most active.

Assuming you are facing a mountain lion head-on, back away slowly and avoid making any sudden movements that may alarm the animal. Keep watching it, and don't turn your back. Never run, as this can trigger the mountain lion's instinct to chase and attack, 

For more advice, see our guide what to do if you meet a mountain lion on the trail.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.