Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Arizona man recovering from lion bite

By Diane Saunders, Staff Writer
Eastern Arizona Courier

Pima resident Ray Ferguson was at his farm west of town feeding a domestic cat and kittens who live there when he was attacked by another cat — a mountain lion — who tried to make a meal out of him.

"She came out from the salt cedar trees and latched onto my hand," Ferguson said of the Aug. 2 incident. Monday, August 14, 2006

At first, Ferguson thought the animal was a big dog. Then he realized the animal he was trying to shake off was a mountain lion.

"I used the old tried and true method — I screamed as loud as I could," Ferguson said. The big cat ran off, and Ray drove back home, his hand bleeding.

He described the lion as "young, beautiful and starving to death." Ferguson estimated she weighed about 60 pounds.

After an unsuccessful attempt to contact his doctor, he went to the emergency room at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for treatment of the bite. The wound required no stitches, but Ferguson learned he had to get rabies shots because of the possibility that the lion was rabid.

Ferguson will not have to undergo a series of painful rabies shots in the stomach. Today's shots are less painful and are given in the shoulder.

"They're not bad. They're like a flu shot in the shoulder," he said of the six shots he must endure.

While Ferguson was being treated at the hospital, officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department searched for the mountain lion without success.

The following day, a neighbor shot and killed a young female mountain lion. Tests show the animal did not have rabies. While Ferguson believes this is the cat that bit him, there is no way to be certain, so he will complete the series of rabies shots.

Ferguson said he has never seen a mountain lion at his farm, but others in the area have seen them.

Debbie Freeman, spokeswoman for Arizona Game and Fish, said there have been no confirmed accounts of mountain lion sightings or encounters by humans in Graham County within the last year.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Web site, wildlife authorities follow certain procedures when dealing with a mountain lion.

"Mountain lions will be destroyed if they attack a human or when they are judged to be a substantial threat to public safety," the Web site states.

http://www.eacourier.com/articles/2006/08/14/update/monday/
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