Mountain lion that swatted 11-year-old girl's cheek killed in Colorado

BUENA VISTA, Colo. (AP) — In Colorado's mountains, an 11-year-old girl went to check on the family's chickens in their wooden hen house Wednesday only to find a mountain lion that swatted at her face, leaving a small puncture wound on her cheek, according to wildlife officials.

The girl was treated and released from the hospital, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers arrived on scene to find the predator still in the wire mesh coop — where they killed it.

This marks the 25th time a mountain lion attacked and injured a human in Colorado since 1990. Three other attacks over the same period resulted in human deaths.

In March, a mountain lion clawed a man in the head while he soaked in a hot tub with his wife at a rental home. He escaped with superficial injuries. Officials believe these don't represent a pattern, merely unfortunate coincidences.

The latest attack appeared to be defensive, according to officials. The roughly 30-pound (13.6-kilogram) female mountain lion didn't appear to be stalking the young girl because it didn't mount a pursuit.

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

While attacks are rare, Shepherd continued, they can't take any chances after an attack. The body was sent to a lab to ensure it wasn't diseased with rabies, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or another infection.

The wildlife agency encourages residents to limit hiding places for mountain lions around homes, install outdoor lighting, and keep pets and children inside at dusk.