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Man in Hot Tub ‘Clawed in the Head’ by Mountain Lion; Authorities on the Prowl

A hot tub. A romantic rendezvous. A cougar after dark. We promise this is a news story and not...something else.

A mountain lion standing on a rock(Photo/Shutterstock)
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A man enjoying a relaxing soak at a short-term rental property near Nathrop, Colorado, received quite a surprise when a mountain lion clawed his head, the Associated Press reported Monday. The in-ground hot tub attack occurred on March 18 in a wooded neighborhood along Chalk Creek in Chaffee County.

The man reacted as one would to any cat-related encounter — with “loud screaming and splashing,” according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Meanwhile, the man’s wife “shined a flashlight at the animal,” per the AP. According to the couple, the lion then withdrew to a hill above the hot tub. The retreat allowed the couple to scurry indoors and tend to the man’s “superficial scratches.”

Responding CPW officers determined the wounds were “consistent with the claw[s] of a mountain lion,” according to a CPW press release. The man declined further medical treatment.

“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,” Sean Shepherd, a CPW wildlife manager based in Salida, Colo., told the AP. “The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion.”

Wildlife officials promptly started searching for the lion along a nearby ridgeline but failed after the frozen snow showed no tracks. The AP reported officials set a trap nearby and will continue monitoring the area.

Mountain Lions in the News

The last reported mountain lion attack in Colorado occurred on Feb. 27, 2022. Since 1990, there have been 24 recorded attacks in the Centennial State. Three of those attacks have resulted in deaths.

This most recent occurrence comes as states across the animal’s habitat range modify or reconsider their mountain lion management plans. Colorado state Democrats proposed a hunting ban on mountain lions in January 2022, while in October 2022, Texas denied a petition to enact mountain lion bag limits. On March 17, Utah governor Spencer Cox signed a bill that allows the hunting and trapping of cougars year-round with a standard hunting license.

mountain lion and cubs

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Denies Petition for Mountain Lion Bag Limit

Texas is the only state that doesn't manage its mountain lion population with a formal conservation management plan. Read more…

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