Mountain lion attacks man in hot tub
The incident in Nathrop, Colorado resulted in only superficial injuries
A man and his wife were in a hot tub when a mountain lion approached and clawed the man’s head. The incident occurred on March 18 at a home in a heavily wooded subdivision in Nathrop along Chalk Creek in Chaffee County, according to a news release by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The victim received four superficial scratches on his head and near his right ear. Four parks and wildlife officers responded to the scene at 10 p.m. By this time, the lion had already departed. The man had cleaned his wounds and told officers he didn’t need medical assistance.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife stated that the incident occurred at about 8 p.m. The couple were sitting in an in-ground hot tub, located away from the rental home. The man told officers he had felt something grab his head in the darkness.
He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the lion. The wife grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the lion. The light and noise caused the lion to retreat about 20 feet away. The couple continued screaming, eventually driving the lion further away. It crouched by some rocks up the hill from the hot tub and continued to watch the couple.
The couple then left the hot tub and returned to the house to treat the man’s scratches. They called the property owner, who was actually a parks and wildlife employee, who alerted wildlife officers.
The first two officers on the scene immediately began searching for the lion, but there was no trace of it. They followed a steep ridge along the creek, but with the frozen ground, they could not identify any lion tracks.
Officers decided tracking with hounds would likely not be successful because of the scattered housing in the area and its proximity to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort about a mile away. Officers set a trap in the area in hopes of catching the lion. They also confirmed the man’s scratches were consistent with clawing from a mountain lion.
“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,” stated Sean Shepherd, the Salida area wildlife manager, in the news release. “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.”
According to parks and wildlife, this is first reported mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since Feb. 27, 2022. This is the 24th known attack of a mountain lion causing injury to a human in Colorado since 1990. Three other attacks on people in Colorado since 1990 have resulted in deaths.
In Grand County, the last mountain lion attack occurred in August 2019, resulting in only scratches. A hunter in Kremmling used a pocket knife and rocks to fight off the lion that swiped at his leg.
Wildlife officers will continue to monitor lion activity in the Nathrop area. Officials encourage residents to keep reporting mountain lion sightings or activity near their homes; they can do so by calling their local CPW office, or calling Colorado State Patrol at 719-544-2424 after business hours.
To learn more about living with mountain lions in Colorado, go to cpw.state.co.us/lions.
When encountering a lion, Parks and Wildlife recommends taking the following steps:
- Go in groups when you walk or hike in mountain lion country and make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising a lion. A sturdy walking stick is a good idea; it can be used to ward off a lion. Make sure children are close to you and within your sight at all times. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
- Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly.
- Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you’re wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up, so they won’t panic and run.
- If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion.
- Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. Remain standing or try to get back up.
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