BOULDER, Colo. A wildlife officer on Sunday shot and killed a female mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy hiking with his family.
The 80-pound cat had bitten the boy's head. The child also suffered puncture wounds and scrapes on his legs, likely from the animal's claws, Division of Wildlife spokesman Tyler Baskfield said.
Boulder County sheriff's officials said the boy's injuries were not life-threatening. He was hospitalized at The Children's Hospital, where officials would not release his condition.
The boy, whose name was not released, was apparently the last in a single-file line of seven other people taking a short hike Saturday at a scenic area of Flagstaff Mountain, Baskfield said.
"The father turned and saw the cat had a hold of the young boy," he said. The group began screaming at the cat and throwing rocks and was able to free the boy, he said.
The group was 50 yards from a parking lot when the cat attacked, Baskfield said.
The officer shot the cat in the same area of the attack, Baskfield said. It was killed in the interest of public safety, he said.
A necropsy was planned to try to determine whether the animal was diseased or had another reason to attack, he said.
Baskfield said the mountain is prime habitat for the cats, and there had been several recent sightings of mountain lions west of Boulder.
"This is a very rare incident to happen," he said. "Mountain lions tend to be very elusive. Typically mountain lions don't want any part of people."