BUENA VISTA, Colo. – A mountain lion was euthanized after it swatted an 11-year-old girl in the face Wednesday evening, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced.
It happened when the girl entered the family chicken coop to check on her chickens and discovered one dead on the ground.
When the girl opened the wooden hen house, a mountain lion was inside and swatted her in the face, leaving a small puncture wound on her cheek, according to CPW. The girl was treated at a Chaffee County hospital.
Wildlife officers responded to the house, located in a rural area of Buena Vista, and found the animal still in the wire mesh coop. The agency said the mountain lion was euthanized, and the body was sent to an animal health lab in Fort Collins for examination.
“Mountain lion attacks are rare, but we can’t take any chances when any predator makes contact with a human,” Sean Shepherd, an area wildlife manager based in Salida, said in the release. “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.”
How do I avoid mountain lion encounters? Be aware of your surroundings, CPW says
The mountain lion was a young female, roughly 30 pounds, and appeared to be in good health, according to CPW.
The agency said the mountain lion was likely looking for an "easy meal," and the swat was a defense response.
In March, a mountain lion clawed the head of a man who was sitting in a hot tub of a rental house in Chaffee County. CPW said both of these incidents are "highly unusual" and "unfortunate coincidences. Nothing more."
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This is the 25th known attack of a mountain lion injuring a human in Colorado since 1990, according to CPW. Prior to these two recent incidents, CPW had not received a report of this type of attack since February 27, 2022.
Anyone who sees a mountain lion or mountain lion activity should report it to their local CPW office or call Colorado State Patrol after business hours.