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Boy, 8, attacked by mountain lion while playing in his yard in Colorado

The boy was playing in the yard with his brother when the mountain lion attacked. There have been three attacks in Colorado this year, the most since 1998.
/ Source: TODAY

An 8-year-old boy was hospitalized with serious injuries after being bitten on the head by a mountain lion while playing outside his house in Colorado.

The boy, who has not been identified, was attacked at around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while playing with his brother in the yard of the family's home in Bailey, a town in the foothills of a mountain range about 35 miles from Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials announced.

A team of three dogs was called in to assist wildlife officials in trying to hunt down the mountain lion, and a trap was set. The dogs searched the area for two hours but could not pick up the mountain lion's scent, officials said in a news release.

The boy was playing on a trampoline with his brother when he ran to visit a friend at a nearby house and encountered the mountain lion. It pounced and bit him on the head, officials said.

His brother ran and got their father, who rushed outside and found the animal on top of his son.

The mountain lion let the boy loose as the father approached and took off running. The boy was then taken to a hospital.

"The kid was running and it probably triggered the lion's natural response to a prey animal running,” wildlife manager Mark Lamb said in the statement. "We all hope that the child will be alright and you just hate to see this occur."

Any wildlife attack on a human resulting in injury requires that animal to be put down, according to the department's policy. It was not known whether the mountain lion was male or female.

Mountain lion attacks are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatal attacks on people in North America in the last 100 years, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. Since 1990, there have been 22 mountain lion attacks on humans in Colorado, three of them fatal.

There have been three attacks in Colorado this year after there were none the past two years. The last time three attacks occurred within the same year was in 1998, officials said.

Most of the attacks have been by young lions that key on easy prey like pets and small children, according to the department.

A Colorado jogger was attacked by a mountain lion in February while running on a trail at Horsetooth Mountain Park. Travis Kauffman said he killed the animal with his bare hands after a vicious struggle.

Kauffman, 31, told TODAY he suffocated the 50-pound mountain lion to death after it attacked him from behind. He received 25 stitches on his face and wrist.

A mountain lion in California was euthanized in May after it attacked a 4-year-old boy in San Diego. The boy was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has tips on its website when encountering a mountain lion, including going in groups when hiking in mountain lion areas, stopping and backing away slowly and raising your arms to appear larger.