(NEW YORK) — A man was attacked from behind by a mountain lion and suffered wounds to his head while he and his wife were relaxing in an in-ground hot tub.
The incident occurred at approximately 10 p.m. on Saturday when the couple alerted Colorado Parks and Wildlife that the man had just been attacked by a mountain lion while the pair were soaking in a hot tub at a rental home in a heavily wooded area about five miles west of Nathrop, Colorado, along Chalk Creek in Chaffee County.
“The victim had four superficial scratches on top of his head and near his right ear,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement following the incident. “By the time CPW was alerted and responded, the victim had cleaned the wounds and declined any medical assistance. The officers determined the injuries were consistent with the claw of a mountain lion.”
The victim told the officers that he and his wife were sitting in the hot tub a short distance from the home they were renting when, at about 8 p.m., he felt something grab his head.
“He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the animal,” CPW said. “The victim’s wife grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the animal, which they then identified as a mountain lion. The light and commotion caused the mountain lion to retreat about 20 feet from the couple in the hot tub. They continued to scream at the mountain lion and after a short time it moved up to the top of a hill near some rocks where it crouched down and continued to watch the couple.”
The couple were eventually able to make it safely into the home where they cleaned the man’s wounds and reported the incident.
CPW officials subsequently arrived on scene and attempted to search for the mountain lion but could not find any mountain lion tracks due to the freezing temperatures and frozen snow on the ground.
“We think it’s likely the mountain lion saw the man’s head move in the darkness at ground-level but didn’t recognize the people in the hot tub,” said Sean Shepherd, Area Wildlife Manager based in Salida. “The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion. Although this victim had only minor injuries, we take this incident seriously. We have alerted neighbors and posted signs warning of lion activity. And we will continue to track the lion and lion activity.”
This is the first reported mountain lion attack of a human in Colorado in more than a year and the 24th known attack of a mountain lion causing injury to a person in Colorado since 1990. Three other attacks in Colorado since 1990 have resulted in human deaths, CPW said.
“Though mountain lion attacks are relatively rare, it is important to know how to avoid or manage potential encounters,” officials said. “CPW encourages residents to keep reporting mountain lion sightings or activity near their homes; they can do so by calling CPW’s Salida office at 719-530-5520 or calling Colorado State Patrol at 719-544-2424 after business hours.”
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