Three mountain lions were killed by officials in Arizona after eating human remains near a popular hiking trail. The big cats, also called cougars or pumas, are not suspected of killing the person who was eaten, but the fact that they consumed the remains is troublesome because the animals are not typically scavengers, authorities say. "A mountain lion eating human remains is abnormal behavior," the state's Game & Fish Department regional supervisor says in a statement, per CNN. "Those that do are more likely to attack a human being in the future. In addition, they did so 50 yards from a popular hiking trail and within sight of homes, and repeatedly showed no fear of responding officers." Another official adds, per CBS, that with abundant live prey in the area, it's not clear why the mountain lions would eat a dead body.
The remains were discovered Tuesday morning at Pima Canyon Trail near Tucson, and a portion of the Coronado National Forest was temporarily closed as authorities first tried, in vain, to trap the mountain lions, Fox News reports. The mountain lions were killed overnight after being found to be "a clear and present danger to public safety," the supervisor said Wednesday, and the trail was reopened. "We thought the risk was too great and we had to take action," says the other official. Authorities are still attempting to identify the victim and determine what happened to them, with an autopsy scheduled Thursday; the mountain lions' bodies are also being preserved as possible evidence. (Read more mountain lion stories.)