DNA test results provide positive identification in mountain lion attack on young boy in Bailey
DENVER - DNA test results confirmed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife that the mountain lion who attacked an eight-year-old boy in Bailey, Colo., on Aug. 21 was one removed from the area by wildlife officials the following day, CPW announced Monday.
The boy was attacked at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, sustaining serious injuries. The following day, while CPW wildlife officers and USDA Wildlife Services officials were already in the immediate area searching for the mountain lion responsible for the attack, two lions had killed and started feeding upon a domestic goat. Federal Wildlife Services officials euthanized the two male mountain lions seen at the goat carcass. CPW then submitted DNA samples from both mountain lions for analysis because they fit the description of the attacking lion and were in close proximity to the attack site.
The University of Wyoming Forensics Lab confirmed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife a positive match. Tissue samples from one of those two mountain lions matched hair samples taken off of the neck and chest from the boy in the attack, off the shirt of the father who had picked up his son after scaring the mountain lion away, off of the bedding from the hospital and of lion fur collected at the scene of the attack.
“It is reassuring to know that the mountain lion from both the attack and depredation of the goat was removed from the area,” said Area Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb. “This 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.”
The second mountain lion euthanized following the depredation was also tested, but did not match any of the DNA samples submitted.
The lab also tested for proteins from the domestic goat killed that were pulled off the claws of both mountain lions, which came back positive. This confirms the necropsy results from CPW’s health lab that found stomach contents in both lions were full of goat tissue. Both mountain lions were estimated at 12 months old going off an examination of the canine tooth length, were males and both weighed around 65 pounds.
“We encourage people in the community to remain vigilant and take the proper precautions for living with all wildlife, but to also protect livestock and their pets as well,” Lamb added.
The DNA tests run by the University of Wyoming Forensics Lab are the same that would be run by the FBI or CBI on humans, just looking for different primers for wildlife. The UW lab is an internationally accredited one that specializes in wildlife with state-of-the-art technology. The lab has a contract with many states for DNA analysis, including Montana, New Mexico and Arizona.
The Platte Canyon Fire Protection District put out a statement with permission from the victim's family Monday morning.
“Our young patient had his second surgery yesterday, he continues to persevere and remain brave while healing,” the statement read. “Your ongoing thoughts, prayers and support are appreciated.”
That was the second statement since the attack, the first was released Saturday afternoon, coming directly from the family.
“Our son is a compassionate and brave little boy,” the statement read. “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. Thank you."
At this point, the family is still asking for its privacy, especially from the media.
The Platte Canyon Fire Protection District has verified a legitimate GoFundMe site established for the family, whose child remains in the hospital recovering.
Link to GoFundMe site
If you would like to donate gift cards (for fuel, food, etc./please no actual food items at this time), the gift cards can be dropped off at Platte Canyon Fire Station #2 at 153 Delwood Drive, Bailey, CO 80421.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife did remove the trap that had been set out at the scene of the attack and is not active in the area. Wildlife officers will be tracking new or ongoing mountain lion activity in the area and encourage residents to report any sightings or problems so that they can work to mitigate human-lion conflicts.
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.