Two days after an August 21 mountain lion attack on an eight-year-old boy in Bailey, officers with USDA Wildlife Services killed not one, but two of the animals. In the immediate wake of this action, Colorado Parks and Wildlife noted that a necropsy would be necessary to prove whether one of the two animals had been responsible for injuring the boy, who's expected to recover. The agency is now revealing DNA test results that show one of the lions did indeed attack the boy.
"The University of Wyoming Forensics Lab confirmed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife a positive match," CPW divulges in a press release. "Tissue samples from one of those two mountain lions matched hair samples taken off of the neck and chest from the boy in the attack, off the shirt of the father who had picked up his son after scaring the mountain lion away, off of the bedding from the hospital and of lion fur collected at the scene of the attack."
The attack took place at around 7:30 p.m. on August 21. The boy was reportedly playing on a backyard trampoline with his brother when he heard a neighboring child call out for him. As the boy raced off to join his pal, the mountain lion pounced and went after the boy's head. His father was able to scare the animal away and call 911.
Searches by wildlife officers, who stayed at the Bailey residence overnight, were initially unsuccessful. But late on the afternoon of August 22, the CPW tweeted that the aforementioned officers, accompanied by a dog team, "were in the vicinity of the attack site and received a call of a landowner who was missing a goat and had just seen two mountain lions. The officers responded to that depredation call, which was within a mile as the crow flies of the original attack site. Upon arrival, they found two mountain lions that fit the description of the lion from the attack."
After the mountain lions were captured, they were both euthanized, and while one of the animals wasn't involved in the attack, area wildlife manager Mark Lamb states, "It is reassuring to know that the mountain lion from both the attack and depredation of the goat was removed from the area. This male juvenile mountain lion was not only a threat to human safety, but obviously to livestock and pets as well. We had clear signs that both of these male mountain lions were feeding well in the area, so there was no reason to believe that they would travel elsewhere out of that community any time soon."
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The injured child has not yet been identified, but his family shared this about him over the weekend through the Platte Canyon Fire Protection District: "Our son is a compassionate and brave little boy. He had surgery to repair multiple lacerations to his head and face. He will need time for additional treatment and healing. We thank everyone for their overwhelming support, expressions of concern and offers of help. At this difficult time, we ask for your patience and the time for our family to adjust and heal. Thank you."
Click to access a GoFundMe page to raise money for the boy's medical expenses. In the meantime, CPW has announced that three other mountain lions have been seen not far from the family's Bailey home and encourages others who live in the area to be cautious.
According to CPW stats, there have been 22 mountain lion attacks on humans in Colorado since 1990, with three of them (in 1991, 1997 and 1999) proving to be fatal — and an uptick this year. To date in 2019, there have been three attacks on people, including this one in Bailey and a February incident during which trail runner Travis Kauffman fought off a mountain lion with his bare hands after it lunged at him outside Fort Collins. The last time three attacks took place in a single year was 1998.
This post has been updated with information about DNA tests on the remains of two mountain lions euthanized by wildlife officers, as well as details about the injured boy's recovery.