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Man in hot tub attacked by mountain lion

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said this is the state's first reported mountain lion attack since Feb. 27, 2022.

NATHROP, Colo. — A man suffered minor injuries after being attacked by a mountain lion this weekend in Chaffee County.

The man told Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers that around 8 p.m. Saturday, he and his wife were in an in-ground hot tub located away from the rental home they were staying at when he felt something grab his head.

He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the animal, CPW said. The man's wife then grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the lion. 

The big cat retreated about 20 feet from the couple and the hot tub, CPW said. The man and woman kept yelling at the lion, and it moved up to the top of a hill where it crouched down near some rocks and kept watching the couple, CPW said.

The couple told officers they were able to get out of the hot tub and make it back to the rental home. The man suffered four superficial scratches from the clawing, CPW said. He cleaned the scratches and refused medical treatment, according to CPW.

The couple called the rental home's owner, who called CPW. Wildlife officers arrived at the home, which is located about five miles west of the town of Nathrop along Chalk Creek.

Two wildlife officers searched for the lion, following a steep ridge along the creek. The officers were unable to find any tracks due to the freezing temperatures and frozen snow on the ground, according to CPW.

Wildlife officers said they decided that tracking the lion with dogs would not be successful due to the subdivision's scattered housing and its proximity to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort complex. Officers instead set a trap nearby in hopes of capturing the lion, CPW said.

“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, a CPW 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.” 

The attack was the state's first reported mountain lion attack since Feb. 27, 2022, CPW said. It's the 24th known mountain lion attack that has caused injuries to a human since 1990, according to CPW.

Three mountain lion attacks since 1990 have resulted in deaths in Colorado. CPW said they do not classify mountain lion depredation of pets or other animals as attacks.

Wildlife officers said they will continue to monitor lion activity in the Nathrop area. People in that area can report mountain lion sightings or activity near their homes to CPW's Salida office at 719-530-5520 or by calling Colorado State Patrol at 719-544-2424 after business hours.

You can find more information about living with mountain lions by clicking here.


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