Colorado Mom Saves Son, 5, from Mountain Lion Attack, Officials Say
The mom "had to physically remove the lion's paws from her son's face," an official tells PEOPLE
A 5-year-old Colorado boy is in fair condition after his mother saved him from a mountain lion attack Friday night, local authorities tell PEOPLE.
The boy’s mother told deputies he was attacked that night while playing outside their home with his older brother, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Their home is about 10 miles outside Aspen, Colorado.
Authorities were first notified of the attack about 8 p.m. local time, as the boy’s father was driving him to the hospital, according to the release.
Alerted by her son’s screams, the mother ran outside and saw the lion on her son, she told deputies. She “had to physically remove the lion’s paws from her son’s face,” sheriff’s spokesman Alex Burchetta tells PEOPLE.
The boy was injured on his face, head and neck; and his mother received minor injuries on her hand and legs, according to police.
The boy was transferred in fair condition to a Denver hospital, according to the release, and his mother was hospitalized at Aspen Valley Hospital, Burchetta says. She has since been released, according to NBC News.
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Soon after interviewing the family Friday night, authorities returned to the family’s home where they found a mountain lion in the front yard, according to the release. The lion was killed by a U.S. Forest Service officer.
State wildlife officials will examine the lion and work to find a second lion also reported in the area, earlier that day, according to the release.
Though mountain lion attacks are "rare," according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the number of encounters between humans and lions has recently been increasing. This is due to a combination of factors, officials say, including an increase in deer and more people moving into lion habitat.
A representative with the U.S. Forest Service tells PEOPLE the investigation is ongoing and more information, including about the lion’s size and other details, would be released as it was available.