MONTEZUMA COUNTY, Colo – A 47-year-old man was clawed by a mountain lion this past Sunday, marking the first attack on a human since March 2020, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Thursday.
Michael D. Warren, 47, was inside his home Sunday evening near the community of Lebanon when he heard a thud on his front porch, and his dogs inside the house began to bark aggressively. Believing his cats were fighting on the porch, he went to investigate, according to CPW officials. Trying to keep his dogs inside the house, he placed his right leg in the opened door and that’s when he said he felt something grab his leg. The man told CPW officials he looked and said he saw a mountain lion run away. Security footage later confirmed his mountain lion sighting.
The man called police to report the attack but told them he did not need medical attention, according to CPW. Officers from the agency would later observe punctures on the lower right leg below the knee, “indicative of punctures from claws.”
An investigation by CPW near the site of the attack, which involved hound dogs specifically trained for tracking mountain lions, was unsuccessful, officials said.
The victim in the attack told wildlife officers he had a total of four domestic cats and that two had recently gone missing, leading CPW to believe the mountain lion had previously visited the home and returned the night of the attack, according to a news release from the agency.
CPW said another mountain lion incident was reported on Feb. 18 from the same area as Sunday’s attack involving chickens and a cat.
“Judging by the tracks we found and the footage we have along with the victim’s statement, we believe it is a young, sub-adult lion,” CPW district wildlife manager Matt Sturdevant said. “We also believe it is the same lion that had been hanging out in the area for a bit.”
Sunday night’s attack is the first reported mountain lion attack of a human in Colorado since March 11, 2020, according to CPW.
The agency said this is the 23rd known attack of a mountain lion causing injury to a human in Colorado since 1990 and the first attack in southwest Colorado since 2008. Three other attacks in Colorado since 1990 have resulted in human deaths.
CPW does not characterize lion depredation of pets or other animals as attacks.
CPW advises residents to learn what to do should they encounter any of the various wild animals that inhabit this densely populated urban area:
- Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it.
- Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you're wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run.
- If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion.
- Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. CPW recommends targeting the eye and nose as these are sensitive areas. Remain standing or try to get back up.