Getty Mountain lion
A man is recovering from being clawed in the head by a mountain lion whilst relaxing in a hot tub with his wife.
The attack happened in Chaffee County around 8 p.m. Saturday and left the victim with four scratches "on top of his head and near his right ear," according to a statement from Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW).
Four wildlife officers from CPW responded to the incident, which happened in an in-ground hot tub at a rental home in a wooded area.
The unnamed man told officers he and his wife were sitting in the hot tub — which was located away from the house — when he "felt something grab his head," stated the CPW release.
"He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the animal," the release continued. "The victim's wife grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the animal, which they then identified as a mountain lion."
Once the animal had retreated far enough away, the couple said they were able to make it safely back into the house. Once inside they cleaned the man's wounds and reported the incident to the property owner, who happened to be a CPW employee. He then alerted CPW officers.
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— CPW SE Region (@CPW_SE) March 20, 2023
A search for the lion began "immediately," "following a steep ridge along the creek," the CPW release added.
Despite this "No mountain lion tracks could be found due to the freezing temperatures and frozen snow on the ground," the CPW continued. "A trap was set nearby in hopes of catching the 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," Sean Shepherd, CPS Area Wildlife Manager based in Salida, said in a statement.
"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 Twitter account for the Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Southeast Region shared a safety warning poster following the incident, including advice on what to do if you find yourself in an encounter with a mountain lion.
"In the rare case it attacks, fight back aggressively," the poster reads.
According to CPW, the incident is the first reported mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since Feb. 27, 2022. It's also the 24th known mountain lion attack to have caused injury in Colorado since 1990. Three other attacks in the state since 1990 have resulted in human deaths.