Fort Collins, Colorado: The final necropsy report of the mountain lion killed by Colorado trail runner Travis Kauffman estimates the age of the lion at three to four months.
The necropsy performed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife veterinarians in Fort Collins identified the lion as a “kitten” with a weight of 24 pounds. However, the animal was heavily scavenged and officials estimated the animal’s live weight was 35 to 40 pounds. The report listed the animal in “fair condition” with no diseases noted.
According to the necropsy, “blood-staining of the scavenged tissues suggests the scavenging took place perimortem (meaning taking place at or around the time of death).”
The necropsy went on to say the “pattern of scavenging is reminiscent of feline predation.” One identifiable set of teeth marks in the dead animal matched the size of the dead animal’s teeth, likely indicating the dead lion was partially eaten by its siblings, which is a lion behavior.
Officials later trapped two lions in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, where the attack occurred, that they believe to be the dead lion’s siblings. Officials moved the animals to a wildlife rehabilitation facility with the intent to release them back into the wild.
Kauffman said at a press conference held in Fort Collins on Feb. 14, 10 days after the attack, that he feared he would be attacked by other mountain lions in the area. He said he especially feared the mother of the lion he killed would confront him.
Officials described the animal as a juvenile throughout the investigation. Though kitten is commonly associated with very young members of the feline family, in the report the word could simply mean an immature lion.
The necropsy, which was performed the same day of the attack, stated there was abundant dried blood within the fur between the paw pads as well as surrounding the nose and mouth of the animal.
Wildlife officials did not immediately respond to a question regarding if any blood from Kauffman was found on the animal.
Determining the animal’s sex was difficult because the sex organs were missing, presumed scavenged. However, the intact pelvic region did not indicate a uterus, and officials believe the animal was a male.
The animal had abrasions and bruising on the top of its head, with additional abrasions on the bridge of its nose and above the right eye. The larynx and trachea had extensive tiny hemorrhage pinpoints, indicating manual strangulation.
The 31-year-old Kauffman, who stands 5-feet-10 and weighs 150 pounds, told authorities that during the struggle he was able to hit the lion on the head with a rock then use his foot to step on its throat, ultimately killing it.
His story garnered international attention due to the rarity of a person being attacked by a mountain lion and, even more rare, the person being attacked killing the predator.
Wildlife officials said even though the lion was young, Kauffman did everything right in defending himself and praised him for being able to fend off the mountain lion.
The two trapped lions from Horsetooth Mountain Open Space remain at an undisclosed rehabilitation facility, where they will be fed to put on weight and will not be released into the wild until the animals have a strong chance of survival, officials say.
When trapped, the animals were generally in “good condition, hungry, but not emaciated” and had no diseases or abnormalities detected.
Image: Local runner Travis Kauffman describes the approximate size of the adolescent mountain lion that attacked him, as seen on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colorado.