Mountain lion that attacked former MH resident determined to be young cub

Photo courtesy of CBS

A mountain lion attack of a former Mountain Home resident last month making international news has returned to the headlines.

National media outlets including NBC, Fox and Reuters are reporting in follow-up stories the mountain lion attacking Travis Kauffman, now of Colorado, was a young cub.

Colorado wildlife officials said Friday the mountain lion Kauffman strangled, after it attacked him on a jogging trail last month, was likely orphaned but not starving, weighing no more than 40 pounds.

The encounter between the young predator and Kauffman garnered international headlines when authorities revealed the 31-year-old man had not only survived a rare mountain lion attack but had suffocated the cat by stepping on its throat.

A necropsy - the animal equivalent of an autopsy - showed the cougar was 4 to 5 months old, based on the condition of its teeth, and the results confirmed Kauffman's account of the struggle, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.

The agency said the cause of death was determined to be ... blunt trauma and strangulation.

Kauffman recounted his harrowing tale at a news conference last week. He said on Feb. 4th, he was jogging on the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, about 65 miles northwest of Denver, when he heard pine needles rustling and turned to see a cougar staring him down.

He told reporters he was bummed out to see a mountain lion.

The environmental consultant said he raised his arms and yelled, but the cougar pounced, clamping its jaws on his right wrist, and slashing his face and neck with its claws.

During the three-minute struggle, Kauffman said he unsuccessfully tried to dislodge the cat by hitting it with a rock and stabbing it with sticks. Ultimately he was able to get on top of the cat and place his foot on its throat until it stopped thrashing.

Kauffman ended up receiving 19 stitches along his left cheek, another six stitches on the bridge of his nose and three stitches on his wrist (where the lion's mouth was). Kauffman said he had several puncture wounds from the cat's teeth and claws but otherwise felt "great" as he recovered from the attack.

Veterinarians who performed the necropsy could not determine the gender or precise size of the dead cat because other animals had fed on the carcass by the time rangers reached it. But authorities say the examiners surmised the cougar was likely a male that weighed between 35 pounds and 40 pounds.

Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay told Reuters mountain lions normally stay with their mothers for 12 to 18 months before striking out on their own, and two other cubs believed to be from the same litter were later trapped.

Clay says the cats were taken to an animal rehabilitation facility to give them a better chance for survival when they are released back into the wild at some point.

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