Abandoned baby mountain lion on road to recovery in Cornville

A 6-week-old orphaned mountain lion is rehabilitating in the safe hands of Billy Harvey at the Runnin’ W Wildlife Center in Cornville after being abandoned by its mother near the Verde River. (Vyto Starinskas/Verde Independent)

A 6-week-old orphaned mountain lion is rehabilitating in the safe hands of Billy Harvey at the Runnin’ W Wildlife Center in Cornville after being abandoned by its mother near the Verde River. (Vyto Starinskas/Verde Independent)

CORNVILLE -- A 6-week-old orphaned mountain lion is rehabilitating in the safe hands of Billy Harvey at the Runnin’ W Wildlife Center in Cornville after being abandoned by its mother near the Verde River.

The mother did not come back and the cub was falling over, which is a sign of dehydration, Harvey said Friday morning.

“It’s already better,” Harvey said. “Now it’s stronger.” The next phase is to clean the parasites out if he still has them in a week, Harvey said.

Harvey didn’t know how long the mountain lion would be in his care. “It’s really the property of the Game and Fish Department and they are looking at their options of placing it whether it be out of state in a release program or staying permanently in captivity.”

Harvey said he is not involved in the decision of where the mountain lion goes.

Anticipating that it will be released, Harvey said they are limiting their contact with the tiny mountain lion, which they have had since Sunday. He said he didn’t even know if it was a male or female yet.

The Runnin’ W Wildlife Center works with Game and Fish and is a fully-licensed rehabilitation for injured small mammals and birds.

His facility can handle some small mammals, but could not handle a mountain lion as it grows larger.

“They are looking at their options for placing it,” Harvey said. Arizona does not have a mountain lion cub release program, so it may have to go out-of-state.

Such cubs need care until they are six months old, and it takes a proper facility, he added. Some mountain lions will live with the parent for up to two years.

This is the first mountain lion that has been brought into his Cornville facility, Harvey said. No one should ever touch a mountain lion cub if they find one. Always call Arizona Game and Fish and let them do it, he stressed.

Harvey said there is no way to know how many mountain lions there are in the Cornville area because their range is like 300 to 320 miles and “you would never that were even in your backyard. And they really try to avoid people.”

If you find a mountain lion that is injured, call the game warden and they will deal with it, Harvey said. It’s the same with bears, bison, with all big-game animals.

“That’s why we are limiting our contact with the animal, with the hopes that it can be re-released,” Harvey said optimistically.

Click here for a list of Arizona Game and Fish offices and contact information