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DNA confirms mountain lion euthanized had attacked 8-year-old boy in Bailey

A mountain lion bit the boy's head in Burland subdivision as he ran to visit a friend, CPW said.

BAILEY, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced Monday that DNA has confirmed that one of the two mountain lions officers euthanized last Thursday was responsible for attacking an 8-year-old boy in Bailey.

The lions were discovered after someone a mile from where the initial attack happened called police to say one of their goats had been killed. Wildlife officers who went to the area later found two mountain lions that fit the description of the one that attacked the child, according to CPW. 

The bodies of the lions were taken to the CPW lab in Fort Collins. Tissue samples taken at the University of Wyoming Forensics Lab later confirmed that one of the mountain lions matched hair samples that were found on the boy who was attacked.  

“It is reassuring to know that the mountain lion from both the attack and depredation of the goat was removed from the area,” Area Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb said. 

The second mountain euthanized was also tested, but did not match any of the DNA samples submitted, CPW said. 

GOFUNDME: Here's how to help the family of the 8-year-old boy attacked by the mountain lion

The Platte Canyon Fire Protection District said the victim of the mountain lion bite is "doing well in light of the circumstances." 

That's according to an update posted to Facebook on Thursday afternoon, hours after a second team of dogs arrived in Bailey late Thursday morning to help Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers track and then kill the animal responsible for what happened. 

"First off, in this unfortunate incident, we were honored to have transported such a brave and stoic young man," the Facebook post from firefighters read. "Even with his serious injuries sustained, our young patient showed concern for the attending medics." 

The boy was in the hospital overnight after he was bitten on the head by a mountain lion as he ran to a friend's house, according to CPW spokesperson Jason Clay. He was listed in serious but stable condition. 

The attack happened around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while the boy was outside playing with his brother, CPW spokesperson Jason Clay said.

The two boys were playing on a trampoline in their yard when the eight-year-old boy heard one of his friends calling from a neighboring house and ran to go visit the friend, a release from CPW says.

While he was running, the mountain lion attacked and bit the boy on the head, according to CPW.

"This mountain lion probably had its natural instincts," Clay said "That's how they stalk, or not so much stalk but surprise their prey as they run by. That running response does trigger their natural instincts."

The boy's brother started screaming and ran inside his home to alert his father.

The father rushed outside and found the mountain lion on top of his son. The mountain lion let go of the child as the father approached and took off running, according to CPW.

"The father saved his son's life in this case," Clay said

 A 911 call was made and the boy was taken to the hospital.

Wildlife officers were at the residence throughout the night after responding to the attack. 

According to CPW policy, any wild animal involved in an attack on people that results in an injury must be put down.

A trap was set and a team of three dogs was brought in to try to locate the mountain lion. The dog team searched the area for roughly two hours but did not pick up a scent trail to track the animal.

Due to the attack, Bailey residents have been asked to keep their pets indoors. Clay also noted that the area in and around Bailey is a natural habitat for mountain lions.

Clay also noted that people in the community have been feeding wildlife.

"The feeding of wildlife can lead to problems," Clay said. "And there have been issues within this community of feeding you know deer, whatever and so when that happens you get animals that congregate whether it's deer or smaller critters and that can draw in the other animals that could feed on them like a mountain lion."

This is the third mountain lion attack reported this year in Colorado. The last time three attacks occurred within the same year was in 1998, according to CPW. 

 A hunter was attacked by a mountain lion while scouting locations to track elk near Kremmling earlier this month.

That mountain lion, which CPW spokesperson Mike Porras described as “very aggressive,” was shot and killed by wildlife officers the next morning.

RELATED: Hunter fights off mountain lion with blunt pocket knife

Porras said the hunter encountered the mountain lion at around 8:45 p.m. on Aug 10. When he noticed it was following him, Porras said the hunter faced the animal and started walking backward, keeping his eyes on the lion. 

In February, a trail runner was taken to a hospital after he said he was attacked and had to kill a mountain lion at Horsetooth Mountain Park west of Fort Collins.

Travis Kauffman left for what he believed would be just another trail run in the foothills west of Fort Collins at noon on Feb. 4. He ran through the windy trails of Lory State Park, and up the challenging Towers Road. He was planning on summiting Horsetooth Rock, but as he was headed up the West Ridge Trail, he heard a twig snap. 

RELATED: Man who killed mountain lion in self-defense stepped on the cat's neck while it had his wrist in its mouth

That’s when he found himself in a fight for his life with a 40-pound mountain lion. The animal scratched and clawed at him, leaving him with a gash on his face and puncture wounds that resulted in 20 stitches. He has a bandage on his arm from when the mountain lion latched onto his wrist. He ultimately was able to beat the animal with a rock, and stepped on its neck until it was unconscious.

Kauffman said he then ran three miles to another trailhead. Another trail runner who had been headed in the opposite direction ran that last mile with him, and they met a couple who helped make sure he got to the hospital.

Despite these recent attacks, lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years, according to CPW's website.

Since 1990, there have been 22 mountain lion attacks on humans in Colorado with three of those resulting in a fatality (1991, 1997 and 1999)

Most of the attacks were by young lions, perhaps forced out to hunt on their own and not yet living in established areas. Young lions may key in on easy prey, like pets and small children, the website says.

This story draws on previous reporting from Allison Sylte

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