Mountain lion attacks man who was sitting in hot tub at Colorado rental home, officials say
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 this weekend.
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" in Chaffee County.
According to a 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.
The mountain lion left due to the "light and commotion" from the couple, the state wildlife agency said, 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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"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," Sean Shepherd, area wildlife manager, stated. "The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion."
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?
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," Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
They set a trap near the area, but had not caught the mountain lion as of the Monday news release.
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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.”
What should I do if a mountain lion is approaching me?
Here are some tips from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:
"Stand your ground" and don't turn or run away.
Start by speaking "calmly and in a deep voice," but "yell loudly" if the mountain lion doesn't leave.
If the mountain lion keeps coming toward you, "raise your arms, wave a coat, brandish a stick, throw rocks, branches, a backpack, a bicycle" and "back away slowly" while watching it.
If you're attacked, "fight back aggressively."
Aggressive mountain lions should be reported to wildlife officials right away. You can also call 911.
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What can I do to prevent a mountain lion attack?
Here are some safety tips Colorado Parks and Wildlife shared in the news release:
Be noisy when you're coming or going anywhere from dusk to dawn. That's when mountain lions are most active.
Make sure you have outdoor lighting that illuminates areas you walk. This will help you see a mountain lion if there is one.
Watch kids while they play outside, and make sure they stay inside from before dusk until after dawn. Talk with them about mountain lions and make sure they know what to do if they come across one.
Make it harder for mountain lions to hide by landscaping and/or taking away vegetation that could provide a hiding place.
Don't plant things deer like to eat, including nonnative shrubs and plants, and don't feed wildlife. "Predators follow prey," the state wildlife agency warned. On a similar note, keep your garbage secure and don't feed your pets outside, as that can attract raccoons or other animals mountain lions eat.
Make sure your pets are under control and that they are inside at night. Loose pets are prey to mountain lions. If you have to keep your pet outside, make sure they're in a kennel that has a secure top.
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When was the most recent mountain lion attack in Colorado?
This attack was the first reported mountain lion attack on a human in the state since Feb. 27, 2022, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
It's the 24th known attack on a human to cause injury since 1990. Three other mountain lion attacks on humans since 1990 have been fatal in Colorado.
The state wildlife agency doesn't call mountain lion depredations of pets or other animals attacks.
Contributing: Miles Blumhardt and Sady Swanson, The Fort Collins Coloradan.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Mountain lion attacks man in hot tub at Colorado rental home