DENVER (AP) — A mountain lion bit an 8-year-old boy on the head outside his rural Colorado home in the third big-cat attack on people in the state this year, prompting authorities to set traps and use search dogs to find the lion so they can kill it, officials said Thursday.

The boy had been playing on a trampoline with his brother at their home in Bailey on Wednesday evening when a friend called out to him from a house next door. When the boy ran to see his friend, the mountain lion pounced and bit him, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigators.

The boy’s brother ran inside the home and told his father, who rushed outside and found the cat on top of his son. The mountain lion let go and took off running as the father approached.

“It’s quite heroic. He did everything that we would ask somebody to do,” Rebecca Ferrell, a spokeswoman for the wildlife agency, said about the boy’s father. “He ran toward it. He was making himself large and loud.”

The boy, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized in serious but stable condition Thursday.

Ferrell said the children’s high-pitched voices probably sounded like prey to the mountain lion, and its instinct to attack could have been triggered when the boy started running.

The encounter came after a mountain lion attacked a man scouting places to hunt elk in Big Horn Park northwest of Denver last week. He fought it off with a pocket knife, and officials tracked it with hounds, killing it.

In February, a mountain lion attacked a runner on a trail in the mountains west of the city of Fort Collins. The runner used his foot to suffocate the young cat when it didn’t release its grip after the man hit it on the head with a rock and tried to stab it with twigs.

Ferrell said mountain lions rarely attack people, but Colorado’s booming population is leading to an increase in encounters with dangerous animals.

“When you think about it in that context — that we have more and more people coming in and more and more people moving to those exurban areas where wildlife is quite abundant — the opportunity for human-wildlife interactions will just increase by sheer numbers alone,” she said.

There have been 22 mountain lion attacks on people in Colorado since 1990, and three people have died.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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(2) comments

Grant Spellerberg

No reason to kill the big cats. They should have been captured and moved away.

The end of the article eays it all. Too many new residents in the country.

Deidre Adams

Makes me very sad to read these news items - but the more we humans encroach on their wildlife habitat, this is going to happen. What is truly sad is our human response. If we're to allow ourselves to move further into the wilds - our response to attacks shouldn't be knee jerk / just let's kill the cat.

I don't have the answer - but there has to be a better one than to destroy the mountain lion. Perhaps when humans are moving/building into these areas - they should sign a waiver knowing that they have to be extra alert/careful due to wildlife in the area.

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