(CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo.) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Southeast Region is warning of a mountain lion who attacked a man while he was sitting in an in-ground hot tub in Chaffee County on Saturday night, March 18.
CPW said the man, who suffered minor injuries, was clawed in the head by the mountain lion and now authorities are searching for the animal. The incident happened around 8 p.m. Saturday at a rental home near Nathrop, along Chalk Creek in Chaffee County.
The victim, according to CPW, suffered four scratches on the top of his head and near his right ear but declined any medical assistance. Officers also determined the man’s injuries were consistent with the claw of a mountain lion.
According to the victim, he and his wife were sitting in the hot tub “when he felt something grab his head.” The man and his wife screamed and splashed water at the animal, which they were able to identify as a mountain lion when the victim’s wife shined a flashlight on it.
The mountain lion backed up about 20 feet from the couple, and as they continued to scream at the animal, it moved up to the top of a hill when it crouched down and continued to watch the couple.
When the couple got inside the rental home, they cleaned the scratches and called the property’s owner, who happened to be a CPW employee, who alerted officers.
When officers arrived, they began searching for the mountain lion, but due to the freezing temperatures and frozen snow on the ground, no tracks were found. Later, a trap was set up nearby in hopes of catching the animal.
“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, Area Wildlife Manager based in Salida.
Shepherd said the couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the mountain 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 CPW, Saturday’s incident is the first reported mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since Feb. 27, 2022. Officers will continue to monitor mountain lion activity in the Nathrop area, and those who live nearby are encouraged to report any sightings or activity.
To make a report, homeowners can call CPW’s Salida office at (719) 530-5520, or after business hours, they can contact the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) at (719) 544-2424.
To learn more about mountain lions in Colorado and what to do in the rare case you encounter one, click here.
According to CPW, this is the 24th 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.