mountain lion
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Watch: Mountain Lion Leaps Biologist

A hair-raising encounter in a narrow slot canyon.

The video opens with a shot of a deep, narrow crevice in a rocky cliffside. At the back of the slit is a big adult mountain lion. At the bottom is a wildlife biologist with a dart gun. The gun whispers out a dart, accented by the angry roar of the big cat. In an instant, the mountain lion leaps forward, miraculously passing above the biologist and not directly at him. The man scampers to get away, but there is nowhere to go.

The encounter was posted to the YouTube channel of Travis Legler, the houndsman who had accompanied the Arizona Fish & Game Department biologist. It happened Jan. 12, on what was expected to be a routine training trip that quickly turned into a potentially life-threatening situation. They were in the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona when Legler's hounds tracked a large female mountain lion into the rocky canyon area. Legler put his dogs safely away in the truck as he and the biologist went back to the lion. But when the biologist hit her with a dart, things got hairy.

The lion begins up the rocky hillside before abruptly turning back around and dashing toward the cameraman, who responds with guttural growls of his own. This startles the lion, which jumps back down toward the man, flails and leaps erratically around him in every direction, then finally makes his way out of view and away from the two humans. It is an intense 23 seconds as a wildlife biologist and a houndsman narrowly avoid being attacked by a darted mountain lion.

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

The video has been posted less than a month, but it has quickly gained views, especially on Instagram. The Arizona Fish & Game Department asked Legler to pull the video from his Instagram account, which he did. The biologist in the video has remained unnamed.

READ MORE: What to Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion