Elk NetworkColorado Puts Down Mountain Lion that Swats Young Girl

General | May 18, 2023

Below is a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife euthanized a young mountain lion after it swatted an 11-year-old girl, leaving a puncture wound on her face.

The girl was attacked when she entered the family chicken coop to check on her chickens. She found one dead on the ground. When she opened the wooden hen house, the mountain lion was inside and swatted her in the face.

CPW wildlife officers responded to the house, located in a rural area southeast of Buena Vista, to find the small, sub-adult mountain lion still in the wire mesh coop.

They quickly euthanized it, and its remains were sent to a CPW animal health lab in Fort Collins for examination. It was a young female that weighed about 30 pounds and appeared in good body condition.

The girl was treated for a small puncture to her cheek and released at a Chaffee County hospital.

“This was a small mountain lion probably just looking for an easy meal in the chicken coop,” said Sean Shepherd, Area Wildlife Manager based in Salida. “The victim likely surprised the lion. It probably felt threatened and it swatted at her as she entered.”

He believes it was a defensive swat by the mountain lion and not a stalking-type of attack because the animal did not pursue the girl. Either way, CPW takes such incidents very seriously and officers responded aggressively to protect human health and safety.

“Mountain lion attacks are rare, but we can’t take any chances when any predator makes contact with a human,” Shepherd said. “And we need to know if there was anything else going on with this lion, such as rabies, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or some other infection that may have influenced its behavior. So it must be euthanized and tested.”

Shepherd called it an unfortunate coincidence that CPW responded to another mountain lion attack in March in nearby Nathrop. In that incident, a man soaking in an in-ground hot tub was clawed in the head by a mountain lion.

“Both of these incidents are highly unusual,” Shepherd said. “I do not believe there is a pattern here. These were unfortunate coincidences. Nothing more.”

CPW encourages residents to report mountain lion sightings or activity near their homes by calling their local CPW office or by calling Colorado State Patrol after business hours.

Prior to these two mountain lion incidents in Chaffee County, there had not been a mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since Feb. 27, 2022.

This is the 25th known attack of a mountain lion causing injury to a human in Colorado since 1990. Three other attacks in Colorado since 1990 have resulted in human deaths. CPW does not characterize lion depredation of pets or other animals as attacks.

(Photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)