Mountain Lion Colorado Runner Killed Was a Young Kitten: Wildlife Officials

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 1, 2019US News
Mountain Lion Colorado Runner Killed Was a Young Kitten: Wildlife Officials
Travis Kauffman is pictured after a mountain lion attack on Feb. 4, 2019. (CWP)

The mountain lion that a Colorado man killed with his bare hands after it attacked him was a young kitten, wildlife officials.

Travis Kauffman, 31, went to the hospital for treatment after strangling the cat on Feb. 4 at the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.

According to a necropsy report (pdf), the mountain lion was around three to four months old when it was killed. The weight of the carcass was 24 pounds but the carcass wasn’t fully intact due to other animals scavenging it, possibly including one of the lion’s siblings. The live weight was estimated at 35 to 40 pounds.

“Necropsy findings support the victim’s description of strangulation,” officials wrote. The necropsy was performed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife veterinarians.

Though kittens are commonly associated with very young members of the feline family, in the report the word could simply mean an immature lion, noted the Coloradoan.

Wildlife officials said they found dried blood between the paw pads as well as surrounding the mouth and nose of the mountain lion but it wasn’t immediately clear if any of the blood was from Kauffman.

The trail runner said he rolled around with the cougar for approximately 10 minutes after it clamped its jaws onto his wrist and refused to let go.

At a press conference, Kauffman told reporters that he was first alerted by a rustle in the pine trees behind him as he ran the trail in Horsetooth Mountain Park.

NTD Photo
The puncture wound on Travis Kauffman’s wrist sustained in a mountain lion attack on Feb. 4, 2019. (CWP)
NTD Photo
Scratches on Travis Kauffman’s legs sustained in a mountain lion attack on Feb. 4, 2019. (CWP)

He turned around to find a mountain lion had been sneaking up on him, about 10 feet away.

“One of my worst fears was confirmed … I just had my heart sink into my stomach a little bit,” he said. He started yelling, but the mountain lion kept on approaching and then lunged at him.

“It was going up toward my face so I threw up my hands to kind of block my face, at which point it grabbed onto my hand and wrist and from there it started to claw at my face and neck. And that’s when kind of my fear response turned into more of a fight response,” Kauffman said.

Kaufmann tried to throw it off, but the force threw both of them off balance, off the trail, with the mountain lion still gripping his wrist in its teeth.

NTD Photo
Travis Kauffman points to his injuries, sustained in a mountain lion attack on Feb. 4, 2019. (CWP)

“From there it was just like a wrestling match,” Kauffman said.

But lingering in the back of Kauffman’s mind was a greater fear—the fear that the juvenile’s much bigger mother might appear. Female mountain lions can reach over three times the weight of the one that had attached itself to Kauffman’s wrist. Luckily for Kaufmann, no adult lion came to the aid of the juvenile.

At one point, with his free hand, he was able to grab a rock and smash it. “I knew with two pretty good blows to the back of the head (and) it didn’t release, that I was probably going to have to do something a little more drastic,” he said. “I was able to kind of shift my weight and get a foot on its neck” until it succumbed.

Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.

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