By Zoe Sottile and Andy Rose, CNN
A man was attacked by a mountain lion while relaxing in a hot tub at a rental property in Colorado, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“Although this victim had only minor injuries, we take this incident seriously,” area wildlife manager Sean Shepherd said in a news release.
The victim said he felt something grab his head while he was in the hot tub with his wife on March 18. The two were staying at a rental home in a heavily wooded area around five miles west of Nathrop, Colorado.
“He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the animal,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the news release. “The victim’s wife grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the animal, which they then identified as a mountain lion.”
The couple was able to scare the animal away and safely return to the rental home.
They called the owner of the rental property, who coincidentally happened to be an employee of Colorado Parks and Wildlife and alerted officers who came to the scene.
The victim had minor scratches on the top of his head and declined medical assistance. Officers confirmed the scratches were consistent with mountain lion claws, according to the release.
Officers immediately began searching for the big cat, according to the release. But “no mountain lion tracks could be found due to the freezing temperatures and frozen snow on the ground,” said the agency. They sat traps nearby the rental property.
This was the first mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado in a year, says the department. It’s the 24th known attack of a mountain lion to cause injury to a human in Colorado since 1990.
“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 Shepherd in the release. “The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion.”
Sunday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed to CNN the mountain lion has not yet been located. The agency is continuing to search the area and has posted signs asking the public to report any mountain lion sightings.
Estimates place the mountain lion population in Colorado at anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 cats, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The elusive predators, which typically avoid humans, typically kill large herbivores like deer and elk. Adult males can be up to 8 feet in length and weigh an average of 150 pounds.
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