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11-year-old girl OK after young mountain lion swats face at Buena Vista home, CPW euthanizes animal

11-year-old girl OK after young mountain lion swats face at Buena Vista home, CPW euthanizes animal
11-year-old girl OK after young mountain lion swats face at Buena Vista home, CPW euthanizes animal 00:28

A young, female mountain lion was euthanized after it swatted an 11-year-old girl in rural southeast Buena Vista on Wednesday evening, Colorado Parks & Wildlife confirmed in a press release on Thursday. The girl is OK after the mountain lion left a puncture wound on her face. 

According to CPW's press release, the girl was attacked when she went inside a chicken coop on her family's property, where the mountain lion was already inside and likely searching for an easy meal. She was attacked by the wild animal when she opened the wooden hen house, and the mountain lion swatted her face. 

"This was a small mountain lion probably just looking for an easy meal in the chicken coop," said Sean Shepherd, Area Wildlife Manager based in Salida, in the press release. "The victim likely surprised the lion. It probably felt threatened and it swatted at her as she entered." 

CPW officers responded to the family's home and found the sub-adult mountain lion still in the wire mesh coop and quickly euthanized the animal. Its remains were then sent to a CPW animal health lab in Fort Collins for examination. The mountain lion weighed about 30 pounds, and it appeared to be healthy. 

The girl was taken to a hospital in Chaffee County and treated for the puncture wound before she was discharged. 

CPW officers consider the mountain lion's actions to be defensive rather than a stalking-type attack because it did not pursue the girl. Still, CPW said it takes all of these types of animal-human encounters very seriously. 

"Mountain lion attacks are rare, but we can't take any chances when any predator makes contact with a human," Shepherd said in the press 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."

Although there was another recent human encounter with a mountain lion in Chaffee County, CPW says they remain "highly unusual." In March, a man in a hot tub was clawed in the head at his home in nearby Nathrop. 

"I do not believe there is a pattern here. These were unfortunate coincidences. Nothing more," Shepherd said in the press release. 

According to CPW, "Prior to these two mountain lion incidents in Chaffee County, there had not been a mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since Feb. 27, 2022. This is the twenty-fifth known attack of a mountain lion causing injury to a human in Colorado since 1990. 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."

RELATED: Colorado Parks & Wildlife — Mountain Lions

How to reduce risk:

  • Make lots of noise if you come and go during the times mountain lions are most active: dusk to dawn.
  • Install outside lighting. Light areas where you walk so you could see a lion if one were present.
  • Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
  • Landscape or remove vegetation to eliminate hiding places for lions. Make it difficult for lions to approach unseen.
  • Planting non-native shrubs and plants that deer often prefer to eat encourages wildlife to come onto your property. Predators follow prey. Never feed any wildlife.
  • Keep your pet under control. Roaming pets are easy prey and can attract lions. Bring pets in at night. If you leave your pet outside, keep it in a kennel with a secure top. Don't feed pets outside; this can attract raccoons and other animals that are eaten by lions. Store all garbage securely.
  • Place livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close doors to all outbuildings since inquisitive lions may go inside for a look.

RELATED: Mountain lion claws man sitting in hot tub in the head in Chaffee County

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