Colorado jogger may have killed a baby mountain lion, starving


  • On February 4, Travis Kauffman was jogging at Horsetooth Mountain Park, Colorado, after being attacked by a mountain lion.
  • Kauffman was able to kill the animal by placing his foot in the neck of the lion, smothering it, then going to a nearby hospital.
  • According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the mountain lion that Kauffman met would be only a year old, and weighed between 35 and 40 pounds.
  • Mountain man-lion interactions are rare, but tend to occur when a lion is orphaned or is pushed into the margins of its habitat by other adult males.

When Travis Kauffman, 31, went to Horseshoe Mountain Park to run, on February 4, he was not expecting to fight for his life with one of the most dangerous predators. elusive from the region.

Kauffman, who measures 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 150 pounds, said at a press conference with Colorado Parks and Wildlife that he had heard pine needles grazing on the trail behind him.

"I stopped and turned around," he told KUNC radio. "And it's one of those situations where sometimes I turn around, sometimes I do not do it, but deep down inside me, I always wonder if it's dangerous, like a bear, a bobcat, or a mountain lion, and in this case, it was made a mountain lion. "

After a powerful lunge, the cat clamped his jaw on Kauffman's wrist and scratched his face and neck, Kauffman said. Mountain lions hunt in an ambush, waiting in rock crevices or vegetation preying on a skitter, then leaping.

Kauffman told KUNC that he was able to pin the legs of the mountain lion and get a buy on the cat's throat.

"I put my right foot on his neck," he said. "And then I managed to weigh a little on her trachea and that's finally what smothered her."

Man-mountain interactions are very rare. According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, you are more likely to drown in your bathtub, to be killed by a dog or to be struck by lightning.

"Lions hunt prey on all fours and humans are not usually in their diet," said Mike Porrass of Colorado Parks and Wildlife at the Denver Post.

But some factors may explain the reason for this particular encounter: the young mountain lion may have become an orphan or starve, or both.

A young mountain lion & # 39; incredibly strange & # 39;

An autopsy revealed that the mountain lion that attacked Kauffman weighed between 35 and 40 pounds, according to KUNC radio. Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported that the cat was only one year old.

But Mark Elbroch, director of the cougar program at Panthera, a wildcats conservation organization, told Business Insider that the reported weight and age of the animal did not match.

"35 to 40 pounds, it's tiny, that means we're talking about a six-month-old animal." It would be incredibly bizarre if he was one year old, "he said. "Either the weight is wrong or age."

In addition, Elbroch added, "whether it's six months or a year, it should be with mom."

Mountain lions usually eat elk, raccoons and porcupines, not humans.
KRO-Media via Flickr

Mountain lions, like all big cats, have a period of learning to develop the skills required to kill or subdue their prey. The biggest cats have the longest learning curve, said Elbroch, "that's one of the reasons they stay the longest with their mother."

According to the National Parks Service, mountain lions become competent hunters at six months, but stay with their mother for one year after that, and finally defend themselves at 18 months. Younger cougars than younger ones generally learn what is and is not a cougar prey.

So this cat, just a year old, should not have been hunting alone. That is why Elbroch's first question after the announcement of the meeting was: "Was it with mom?"

During the fight, Kauffman declared that he was waiting for other cats to make their way through the trees and join them, but none has come.

Elbroch said that he knew of another case in which a mountain lion had a similar weight at one year old. This cat did not have a mother.

"This lion was orphaned in his youth and had a period of famine," he said about the case. "This has delayed its growth."

The lion who attacked Kauffman may have suffered the same fate, said Elbroch. A similar assumption was also issued last year to explain why two bikers from the state of Washington were attacked by a mountain lion.

The Colorado mountain lion may have been hungry

Mountain lions hunt coyotes, raccoons, rodents, elk, wild pigs and even porcupines. But having enough to eat is a challenge for young lions. Dominant men can kill young lions entering their territory. As a result, juveniles sometimes have to make a living in marginal habitats, according to the National Parks Service. This can cause them to starve, perhaps even hungry enough to risk a confrontation with humans.

Mountain lion attacks on livestock or domestic animals usually involve a hungry juvenile who has been pushed into a marginal habitat.

"The evidence shows that the more an animal is hungry, not just a mountain lion, but also other animals, the more likely it is to hunt in a suburb," Elbroch said.

Elbroch added that in the case of the other orphaned and too small mountain lion, the cat never approached an object as big as a human being.

"She only went to pick up a porcupine and it killed her," he said.

Elbroch had noticed that if the Colorado attack had involved an older or bigger mountain lion, it would have been more difficult for Kauffman to repel him, as the animal would have been "much heavier and much more powerful". But an adult would not have been more skillful or effective at attacking a human.

"No mountain lion has hunters," Elbroch said.

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