A mountain lion attacked a young Coloradoan on Wednesday, May 10 while she attempted to gather eggs from her family’s chicken coop near the town of Buena Vista. The incident occurred after she entered the coop’s wire-encased enclosure and found one of her chickens dead on the ground, according to a Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) press release. Doctors treated her wounds at the Chafee County Hospital, and the responding agents killed the cat.
“This was a small mountain lion probably just looking for an easy meal in the chicken coop,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Sean Shepherd. “The victim likely surprised the lion. It probably felt threatened.” According to Shepherd, the girl opened the door of the wooden hen house to find the subadult mountain lion inside. That’s when the cat lunged at her, swatting her in the face and leaving at least one puncture wound.
Shepherd believes the swat was a defensive reaction rather than a predatory attack because the lion did not pursue the girl afterward. After wildlife agents euthanized the lion, they sent its remains off to a Fort Collins laboratory for testing. “Mountain lion attacks are rare, but we can’t take any chances when any predator makes contact with a human,” Shepherd said. “And we need to know if there was anything else going on with this lion, such as rabies, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or some other infection that may have influenced its behavior. So it must be euthanized and tested.”
The attack occurred near the scene of another mountain lion incident that made news back in March. In that encounter, an adult lion clawed a man’s head as he was soaking in an above-ground hot tub. “Both of these incidents are highly unusual,” Shepherd said. “I do not believe there is a pattern here. These were unfortunate coincidences. Nothing more.”
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This is the 25th time a mountain lion has injured a person since 1990, CPW said, and three of those attacks resulted in a human fatality. Prior to the March hot tub incident, there hadn’t been a mountain lion attack in Chaffee County since February 27, 2022. In order to avoid and manage mountain lion encounters, CPW recommends that people living in lion country make lots of noise during dawn and dusk hours, install outside lighting, keep small children under close supervision, and control all pets and livestock.