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What to know about Colorado mountain lion safety after weekend attack on man in hot tub

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is searching for a mountain lion believed to have attacked a man while he was in a hot tub at a rental home in Chaffee County this weekend.

Here's what we know about the attack from a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release. We've also included information on safety.

How was the man attacked?

The man told Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers the attack happened about 8 p.m. Saturday when he and his wife were sitting in an in-ground hot tub located away from the rental home, which is in what the state wildlife agency described as a "heavily wooded subdivision" located about 5 miles west of Nathrop along Chalk Creek. It's at least a two-hour drive west from Colorado Springs.

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According to the news release, the man "felt something grab his head." Both he and his wife screamed and splashed water at the animal, which they identified as a mountain lion after his wife shone a flashlight on it.

How did they get the mountain lion to leave?

The state wildlife agency attributed the mountain lion leaving to the "light and commotion" from the couple, noting the mountain lion retreated about 20 feet away. According to the news release, the mountain lion moved farther away after they continued to scream at it, but it continued to watch them from the top of a nearby hill.

The man and his wife were able to get back inside the rental house after that.

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What injuries did the mountain lion attack cause?

The man had four scratches — described as superficial by the state wildlife agency — on the top of his head and by one of his ears. The couple cleaned the scratches and called the owner of the rental property once they got inside. The property owner called Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Did they try to find the mountain lion?

Yes. Two wildlife officers started looking for it as soon as they got on scene but couldn't find any tracks because of freezing temperatures and snow on the ground being frozen.

They decided not to use tracking hounds "given the scattered housing in the subdivision and the scene's proximity to the nearby Mountain Princeton Hot Springs Resort complex about a mile east."

They set a trap near the area but had not caught the mountain lion as of the Monday news release.

What do wildlife officers think prompted the mountain lion to attack?

Here's the theory shared by Sean Shepherd, area wildlife manager based in Salida, in the news release:

"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. The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion."

What's Colorado Parks and Wildlife doing to warn others in the area?

"Although this victim had only minor injuries, we take this incident seriously," Shepherd said in the news release. "We have alerted neighbors and posted signs warning of lion activity. And we will continue to track the lion and lion activity.”