BAILEY, Colo. (KKTV) - A mountain lion captured Aug. 22 was confirmed to be the one that attacked an 8-year-old boy the night before, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
DNA results verified the match, CPW announced Monday. The University of Wyoming Forensics Lab tested tissue samples from the mountain lion against hair samples taken from the boy, from his father, bedding at the hospital, and fur at the attack site. All were from the same lion.
The attack happened on the night of Aug. 21 in the town of Bailey, which is in Park County southwest of Denver. CPW says the child was playing on a trampoline in his yard when he heard a friend calling from down the street. As he ran towards his friend's home, the mountain lion pounced, grabbing the boy by the head.
The boy's brother was also outside and heard the commotion but didn't know what was going on. He ran to his father and told him something didn't sound right. His father rushed down the street and found the mountain lion on top of his son. The mountain lion left the boy when it saw the older male rushing towards it.
"The kid was running and it probably triggered the lion's natural response to a prey animal running,” said area Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb in a statement the following morning.
Wildlife officials searched through the night using a dog team. The search turned cold for about 24 hours until wildlife officials received a call from a landowner who was missing a goat and had just seen two mountain lions. When wildlife officers went to the area they noted one of the mountain lions fit the description of the lion involved in the attack. Both mountain lions were euthanized, then necropsies were scheduled.
In addition to identifying the mountain lion involved in the attack, the necropsies confirmed both animals had been dining on goats.
"It is reassuring to know that the mountain lion from both the attack and depredation of the goat was removed from the area," Lamb said Monday. "his 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.”
Both lions were about a year old and weighed 65 pounds.
The child involved in the attack remains in the hospital.
"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," the family said in a statement Saturday, prior to a second surgery.
The family says they anticipate more surgeries down the road but said their son continues to "persevere and remain brave."
The Platte Canyon Fire Protection District released a link to a verified GoFundMe to help the family. If you wish to donate, click here.
Though Coloradans share their space with the animal, mountain lion attacks are rare. Since 1990, there have been 22 in the state. The attack Wednesday night marks the third attack this year; the last time there were three attacks in one year was 1998, CPW said.