A mountain lion found and killed near Payson has tested positive for rabies.
"This is the first mountain lion to return positive (for rabies) in the last three-and-a-half years I've been here," said Don Tanner, animal control officer with the Payson Police Department.
While numerous mountain lions have been found to be rabid, the statistics from the Arizona Department of Health show none on record since 2000.
Tanner said mountain lions are not frequently tested for rabies because of their elusiveness and tendency to stay away from populated areas.
According to Tanner, the mountain lion was seen around 3 p.m. on the L.F. Ranch, west of Payson, on April 6. He said six dogs from the ranch attacked the cat and killed it.
Mary Ann Pratt, owner of the ranch, brought the dogs and the lion head to a local veterinarian on April 7. Tanner was contacted, collected the head and took it to the Arizona State Laboratory for testing. The lab reported on April 8 that the lion was in fact rabid.
Pratt, who had removed the head for testing, was contacted and started post rabies exposure treatment on April 9, Tanner said.
None of the six dogs had current rabies vaccinations. They were removed from the property April 11 and Pratt authorized for five of the dogs to be euthanized. The sixth dog is in quarantine at the Gila County Pound in Globe for 180 days.
Tanner said the cost of the quarantine will be approximately $1,300, which Pratt will have to pay. He said she is seeking assistance in raising the funds to pay for the quarantine.
So far this year, there have been 27 confirmed cases of rabies throughout the state. The mountain lion is Northern Gila County's third case in 2006. The other two incidents involved a coyote, east of Star Valley, and a fox, found near the campus of Gila Community College, Tanner said.