WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Arizona Fish and Game officers have responded to several reports of mountain lion sightings in the Williams area.
"The first reported sightings were by residents around May 1 when a mountain lion was seen walking through a neighborhood near Pine and Lewis Streets, on the south end of town," said Williams Animal Control Officer Leah Payne.
The next reported sightings were during the week of May 24 when several residents spotted the mountain lion near Rodeo Road on the northeast side of town. One resident reported seeing the mountain lion carrying a cat.
"Most of the sightings have been at night," Payne said. "The mountain lion is doing what it's supposed to be doing."
Payne urged residents to bring their pets in at night.
"As long as there is food available, it is going to keep coming back. We just don't like to see people lose their pets," Payne said.
Brandon Holton, a Wildlife Biologist with Grand Canyon National Park, said mountain lions are generally nocturnal animals but can be very active during the crepuscular hours (dawn and dusk).
"They usually make their big kills shortly after dark," Holton said. "Their typical prey in this area is mule deer and elk.
Payne said several residents have reported missing pets, mostly cats.
Holton said a mountain lion seen in a town or other urban wildlife interface might be there because the lion is having trouble hunting in its natural habitat.
"Young males typically disperse from the area they grew up, their natal area, and begin looking for their own territory. They are trying to avoid confronting older males," Holton said.
Mountain lions have huge home ranges - more than 500 square kilometer.
"If you are getting regular sightings of a mountain lion in a confined area, it is typically the same animal," Holton said.
He said that over the past decade, a USGS-NPS mountain lion study in northern Arizona tracked nearly 50 mountain lions, and no kills of domestic pets or livestock were documented.
"The mountain lion could also be in poor condition and having a hard time finding their normal prey," Holton said. "Give them good habitat and room to run in a robust prey base you'll generally have no problems with them at all."
Arizona Fish and Game and Williams Police Officers are keeping an eye out for the mountain lion. Anyone who sights the mountain lion can contact Payne at the Williams Police Department at (928) 635-4461.