Runner's Wild Cougar Killing Is Confirmed

Necropsy describes 'blunt trauma and strangulation' to juvenile cat
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2019 12:13 PM CST
Cougar Killed by Runner Was Fierce 'Kitten'
Travis Kauffman responds to questions during a news conference on Feb. 14, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

As mountain lions can weigh up to 180 pounds, it's no surprise few have been killed by claw-less humans of a similar size. Now, a necropsy helps explain how 150-pound Travis Kauffman managed the incredible feat in self-defense last month, reports the Coloradoan. His animal attacker was 3 to 4 months old, leading state veterinarians to label it a "mountain lion kitten." You can erase any perception of cuteness, however. The suspected male likely weighed 35 to 40 pounds at the time of the Feb. 4 attack. The results aren't a huge surprise: Officials have previously described the cat as a juvenile, and Kauffman said he had been afraid the animal's mother would attack him, too. Authorities retrieved the carcass, and they believe the animal's siblings had scavenged it, which is why they're not certain of its gender.

The necropsy also confirms 31-year-old Kauffman's account of killing the animal by stepping on its neck, after first hitting it in the head with a rock, reports the Denver Post. The cause of death is listed as "likely multifactorial including blunt trauma and strangulation." More specifically, the report cites bruises on the top of the animal's head and hemorrhaging in the larynx and trachea. Attacked from behind as he ran on a trail, Kauffman required 19 stitches on his left cheek, six on his nose, and three on his wrist; it was there that Kauffman said the lion latched on with its teeth after emerging from pine needles. To prevent similar attacks, the animal's siblings were taken from the area and placed in a rehabilitation facility. State wildlife officials say the animals need to put on weight before their release into the wild. (Kauffman drove himself to a hospital.)

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