Showing posts with label mountain lions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mountain lions. Show all posts

June 10, 2019

Attacked on the Trail by a Mountain Lion (4)

"Stinky" in November 2018.
 Last November, as described in a post called "The Mountain Lion Who Hated Everyone (With Reason)," I talked about the vomit-covered kitten that we picked up from a Huerfano County game warden and brought up to the local wildlife-rehabilitation center.

(Here is CPW's news release about her.)

I called her "Stinky," for lack of a better name. She soon gained a cage-mate, another kitten from down the Arkansas River in Otero County, whose even more antisocial demeanor — a good thing, really — earned him the nickname of "Hissy."  He would hide inside a hollow log in the enclosure, peer out, and hiss in the most hostile manner that he could.
"Stinky" six months later. She is crossing
the hollow log but would not fit inside it.


This was Stinky at the end of May, when she and Hissy were deemed sufficiently grown to be released into their original territories. They weighed 50–60 pounds, Hissy being a bit larger.

So I thought back to the case of Travis Kauffman, who got his fifteen minutes of fame last February when he "fought off" and killed a mountain lion west of Fort Collins.

A subsequent necropsy put the little lion's weight at 24 pounds (9 kg.) So it weighed maybe half or less what Stinky weighed upon release. 

Kauffman stomped a kitten, albeit a big one.

I and everyone else who wrote about that thought that he had been attacked, his running triggering a predatory reflex.

But the rehabber had a different view. She pointed out that Kauffman's injuries were on his front, whereas a mountain lion normally attacks from the rear or side. She thought he was probably bent over the kitten snapping photos with a smartphone when it literally got in his face.

The kitten was big enough to scratch him up, but not big enough to take him down.

Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here

February 24, 2019

Attacked on the Trail by a Mountain Lion (3)

Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Infrared image of a mountain lion. Scroll down to learn about
mountain lion photography from an expert. (Photo: Stanford University)

My first face-to-face with a mountain lion (two of them, actually) came during my student days when I worked a few times as a camp hand/assistant cook for a small hunting outfitting concern in Westcliffe, Colorado.

During a spring bear/turkey hunt (spring bear hunting in Colorado ended in the early 1990s), the guides decided to provide some after-supper entertainment.

They took the clients (two or three men) and me down into a side canyon of Grape Creek, and Guide 2 showed us how to wail on a mouth-blown predator call. Then he shined his red spotlight across the drainage and there sat two lions — youngsters traveling together, we suspected.

They watched us. We watched them. We were ready to leave, but there they were. Finally a guide pulled out his .44 Magnum revolver and fired a couple of shots over their heads.

Blink. You could imagine them thinking, "It makes loud noises." Top predator, meet top predator.

We started walking back up a rocky path to our vehicles. The guide cast his red light back and forth behind us, but it kept getting dimmer and dimmer. Later, he claimed he had controlled that dimming with a rheostat. I suspect that his batteries were just worn out.

It was dramatic though. By the time we had the clients back to the nearby cabin, one of them, a lieutenant in a Southern California police department who had told us tales of his urban exploits, was about ready to jump out of his skin.

Me, I went out and bought a red spotlight with rechargeable battery and some predator calls. Now and again I like to see what's out there. And of course there are the scout cameras.

If I lived in northern Colorado I would be tempted to take one of these courses

How does "Mountain Lion Photography Workshop" sound?
Join local wildlife videographer and conservationist David Neils for a deep dive on the habits and habitat of mountain lions in Northern Colorado. You'll learn how to map the hunting and travel routes of these apex predators using four natural factors to view the landscape like a mountain lion, and capture weekly video of these elusive predators. 
 Here is a list of dates and places.

February 14, 2019

Attacked on the Trail by a Mountain Lion (2)


Here is Travis Kauffman, who recently fought off and killed a mountain lion that attacked him while trail-running in the foothills west of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The size of the lion, once announced as 80 pounds, has now shrunk to 40–50 pounds. A yearling, probably.

Gossip abounds. For instance, one source pretty well plugged into the state's mountain lion network (of humans, that is), claimed that he actually was shooting a video of the lion when it attacked him. That is why the attack came from the front, she said.

True, when hunting deer, lions generally attack from the side or year and bite the prey's windpipe. This lion, probably young and inexperienced, fastened onto Kauffman's wrist.

But given that he outweighed it by 100 pounds and was angry to boot, you can see how he could subdue and kill it, although he got some significant lacerations that will leave him with some scars.

(Unrelated: Travis is purely American name, as Nigel is British/West Indian. Do all Travises have Texas roots, a memory of the ill-fated William B. Travis at the Alamo?)

February 06, 2019

Attacked on the Trail by a Mountain Lion (1)

Adult mountain lion  (Colorado Parks & Wildlife).

Screens all over America, even at political websites, lit up yesterday with the news of a trail runner attacked by a mountain lion west of Fort Collins.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife kicked off the story with a news release on Monday, February 4th, reading in part:
LARIMER COUNTY, CO -- Colorado Parks and Wildlife is actively investigating a reported wild cat attack on a trail runner at Horsetooth Mountain Park on Monday afternoon, Feb 4. The victim survived the attack and is currently undergoing medical treatment at a local hospital.

The man was trail running on West Ridge Trail on Horsetooth Mountain Park property when he was attacked from behind by a large cat. The cat bit his face and wrist; the victim suffered facial lacerations, wrist injuries and scratches and puncture wounds to his arms, legs and back.
Subsequent news stories explained how the thirty-something runner not only fought off the cat but but choked it to death.  
The man picked up a rock with his free hand and pounded the cat in the head, but the animal hung on. He then put the lion in a headlock and wrestled and scrapped with the creature on the trail.

When he finally managed to free his wrist from the cat’s jaws, the runner counterattacked. He jumped on the mountain lion’s back, and, using his hands, arms and feet, he choked the animal to death, she said.
His Paleolithic great-nth grand-daddy would have been proud.

In one well-known case, a woman running alone was killed in 1994 on a trail near Auburn, California, which makes a chapter in Jordan Fisher Smith's 2005 memoir  Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra. On the other hand, three years ago a Pitkin County, Colorado, woman fought off a lion who had her 5-year-old's head in its mouth, so she gets the Paleo Prize too.

Allyn Atadero, father of Jaryd, with his son's clothing, found four years
after the boy disappeared along the Cache la Poudre River (Montana Standard).
Coloradans also remember the high school cross-country runner attacked in Idaho Springs in 1991 on a practice run near his school,  not to mention a 10-year-old killed in 1999 in Rocky Mountain National Park and the mystery of 3-year-old Jaryd Atadero, who disappeared on a group hike. His unsolved death is often attributed to a mountain lion, but some argue that he might have been snatched by an eagle. (There is a book about his disappearance too.)

Yet — and this is important — when you read this list of fatal attacks in North America, which begins in 1890, you will notice how many of them were on children. Of the adults, a majority seemed to have been alone and moving — running, skiing, hiking. One mountain biker was attacked while bent over fixing the chain on his bicycle, apparently.

Now is when I could segue into telling my own stories of being stalked by mountain lions — one time in particular got sort of Paleo — but I think I will save it for a follow-up post. Check back in a couple of days.

November 15, 2018

The Mountain Lion Who Hated Everyone (with Reason)

"When I am bigger, I will eat you." Mountain lion (cougar) kitten reclines on a donated
fur coat at Wet Mountain Wildlife rehabilitation center.
Yesterday's wildlife-transport gig has already been turned into a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release. I will just cut and paste parts of the release here and add some commentary.
WALSENBURG, Colo. – After removing a mountain lion kitten from a private home, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding the public it is illegal to possess wild animals and dangerous to the animals’ health.

Although sick from being fed bratwurst, the kitten appeared to be in good health otherwise, said Travis Sauder, CPW district wildlife manager, after he retrieved the kitten and sent it to the nonprofit Wet Mountain Woldlife Rehabilitation.
The "sent it," that's us. Our job is to save him about an hour and a half of driving time so that he can return to his other duties — and so that he no longer had to share his pickup truck with the smell.
But the incident could have turned out much differently since the kitten, estimated by wildlife biologists to be under six months of age, was fed human food when it probably was not yet weaned from its mother’s milk and may have only eaten regurgitated solids from its mother.

"If you find wildlife you believe to be orphaned, leave the area immediately and call CPW,” Sauder said. “By leaving the area, mom will feel safe to come back and retrieve her young.

“Many animals intentionally leave their young behind when startled, relying on the built-in camouflage of the youngsters’ spotted fur to keep them safe. The mother will then return to retrieve its young once the area is safe.”

The people in possession of the kitten published photos Monday on social media showing it in a cage. They claimed they found it in a snowbank after a snowplow passed by. They also claimed they released it back to the wild after allowing it to “thaw out.” In fact, Sauder collected the kitten from their home in Walsenburg on Tuesday.
Newly arrived at its enclosure,
the kitten peers from its vomit-flecked carrier.

The people who had grabbed up the kitten somewhere near La Veta gave it bratwurst, which it violently vomited.

What Sauder handed us was a pet carrier flecked with vomitus, containing a very unhappy little mountain lion (slightly larger than a typical house cat) who looked like something found in a gutter.

Periodically it let loose with a ROWWARRR! that sounded just like a big lion, only more treble. Who could blame it?  It had been kidnapped, fed indigestible food, confined by people, and it was filthy. Like all cats, it hates to be filthy.
Sauder said this kitten was kept far too long by humans to return to where it was found.

“It had been almost 30 hours since it was picked up Monday and its mom would not be in the area any longer,” he said. “This is why it's vital to leave baby wildlife where you find them and call us immediately."
As of today, when the photo at the top was taken, the kitten had eaten some elk meat (Dream big, little lion!), groomed itself, and settled in on an old fur coat for a bed. The rehabbers collect such coats, believing that animals, particularly predators, are more comfortable sleeping on fur.

Right now it is an enclosure used for small cats, which as multiple platform levels and a tree trunk to climb, but the plan is to move it to a larger one, since it will have to stay all winter. Some of the deer who hang around the rehabilitation center — former orphan fawns, for the most part — peered in at it. I wonder when it will realize that they are its prey.

September 16, 2018

Bears Are Hungry in the Fall

Grizzly bears (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Tennessee: A black bear killed a man in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some confusion ensues.
Park officials have shot and killed the bear associated with the investigation into a man's death.
Spokeswoman Julena Campbell said it happened around 9:45 Sunday morning [Sept. 9].
A news release Wednesday said the National Park Service had euthanized a male bear after finding it near a man's body in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On Friday, the park said rangers actually had not yet found and killed the bear.
Wyoming: A bowhunter and his guide were attacked by grizzly bears in the Teton Wilderness; the guide was killed.
As initially reported, a grizzly bear attack on an elk hunter and his guide wounded the client hunter Corey Chubon, from Florida, and left the guide, Mark Uptain, dead. His body was recovered yesterday from the scene in Turpin Meadows at approximately 1:15pm.
After interviews and visiting the scene, Undersheriff Matt Carr said Uptain was rushed by a grizzly bear in “a very aggressive manner.”
“They were field dressing this elk. They were in thick timber and this bear was on them very quickly,” Carr said. “There was apparently no time to react.”
UPDATE: More information on the incident. Apparently bear spray was used.
Oregon: A woman hiking was killed by a mountain lion in the Mount Hood area.
The hiker who went missing on Mount Hood in late August and was found dead at the bottom of a ravine Monday was likely killed by a cougar, authorities said — a shocking twist in the missing persons case. 

The body of Diana Bober, 55, was found Monday [Sept. 10] at the bottom of a 200-foot embankment on the famous Oregon mountain's Hunchback Trail, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

May 13, 2016

Nice Kitty! Hold Still Now!


I don't know the backstory — someone might have found the mountain lion in the trap and alerted Utah Wildlife. Two game wardens arrive to free the cat, and what happens next is a class in Catchpole 101, with a naturally very angry Puma concolor.

If you were wondering, you will find Utah trapping regs here. I wonder if this trap was indeed "marked or tagged with the trap registered number of the owner."

March 09, 2015

Blog Stew: I'll Eat my (Coyote Brown) Boots

 I have so many links to offer. Does anyone still click on hyperlinks? Here is a start, anyway.
Note crucial color difference.

• The Army is switching to "coyote brown" boots, just so you will know. "Desert tan" is just so Operation Enduring Freedom. Having the better boot color will aid the fight against Islamist terrorists.

• "Guntry clubs" — apparently this is a "thing" now, as people say on the Internet. "Savvy investors" are interested, says the Washington Post.

The average age of new target shooters is 33, while 47 percent live in urban or suburban areas, and 37 percent are female, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry.

Me, I will stick with the Blood of Christ Shooting Sports Club.

• Hunting-angling-food blogger Hank Shaw on the dangers of trichinosis, particularly from eating bear meat.
It is a fact that bear and cougar meat are the most prominent vectors for trichinosis in North America. Pigs, which are what most people think of when they think of trich, are actually not commonly infected.
This is a link that you definitely should click.

June 27, 2014

Blog Stew Cooked on the Campfire

This link is supposed to get you a free campfire cookery ebook. It will definitely get you onto The Wilderness Society's email list, but you can unsubscribe if not interested.

¶ The American Bird Conservancy is challenging the federal plan to let wind turbines kill eagles without penalty.
"Eagles are among our nation's most iconic and cherished birds. They do not have to be sacrificed for the next 30 years for the sake of unconstrained wind energy," said Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC's Bird Smart Wind Energy Program. "Giving wind companies a 30-year pass to kill Bald and Golden Eagles without knowing how it might affect their populations is a reckless and irresponsible gamble that millions of Americans are unwilling to take."
¶ Why do we have cougars (mountain lions) with us still but not American lions and sabertooths? Because the cougars were less-picky eaters. More evidence from La Brea Tar Pits.

February 06, 2013

Blog Stew — You Pack It Yourself

• The evolution of the external-frame backpack, starting with Ötzi. Some fascinating archaeological and historical examples.

• I was pleased when I got this "trophy" photo. But this one, on the other hand, is somewhere between "very interesting" and Paleolithic nightmare territory.

• Colorado wineries and farmers stall BLM energy leases in the North Fork Valley. The New West wins again.

December 21, 2012

Mountain Lions at Lunch

With the bears now out on their own, our local wildlife rehabbers were able to meet us in Nearby Town for a long lunch.

The conversation wandered around "secret" hiking trails, local water issues, and of course critter tales — specifically mountain lions.

Back when M. and I were hired by the Bureau of Land Management to census Mexican spotted owls, we were stalked by mountain lions twice that we knew of, and probably other times that we did not know of.

But these people hand-raised them. They had two lions that lived out their lives with them, because the cats had been seized from people who owned them illegally and who had had them declawed. There was no way that these cats could be released into the wild.

The lions were quite friendly, almost cuddly. But they were still cats — unpredictable.

One day one of them jumped the woman as she was leaving its pen, knocked her down, and bit into the back of her head. It sounded like a dog chewing a bone, she said.

Her husband got the cat off of her with a couple of swift kicks to the head and a squirt of pepper spray. She was half-scalped. It was a real La Brea Tar Pits moment, he says.

He himself was in a bad car wreck once and was rebuilt with pins and plates, so we figured that their skeletons would astonish archaeologists of the future.

"Look," they might say, "people in the Plastic Age were still preyed on by large carnivores. Yet this woman survived — her people took care of her."

"And the man — clearly he had many enemies, but someone rebuilt his skeleton in a primitive way."

June 17, 2012

A Camera-Trapping Trophy, But Blurry

 Continuing the narrative that started here and was continued here.

Some other animals came to the spring in late May, before it dried up.There was this red fox and two kits —the one at left is drinking.
Red fox family in the early dawn.
A wild turkey passed by the camera.
Wild turkey hen
Even a domestic dog —I suspect that it came up by an easier route than we do, from a small horse ranch about half a mile away. To reach the bowl from that ranch is easier than the route we must follow.

Once when I was hunting up there a few years ago, I saw a black-and-white farm collie trotting purposefully down in the direction of that ranch.

This dog missed meeting up with the rattlesnake.
And then there was this one, early in the morning on May 20th. If only it had slowed down a little for a sharper image!


I have always figured that to catch a mountain lion with the scout camera was a sort of Holy Grail. Now I will have to adjust my goal to a good image of a mountain lion — or else Holy Grail #2, which is a ringtail.

May 18, 2012

Cooks Agree, Cast Iron is Best

I did not know that mountain lions carried rabies, but one in northern Arizona did and attacked a man's dog while he was camping on the Tonto National Forest.

He knocked it out with a cast-iron frying pan, which is an argument for traditional cookware, isn't it. (Via Patrick Burns, who offers other goodies.)

February 08, 2012

Mountain Lion Attack at Big Bend NP

I have always assumed that while mountain lions attack lone runners, etc., that they would not bother a group of people.

Evidently this cat did not read the manual — or the attraction of fresh little boy was just too much.

Lucky for Rivers Hobbs, 6, his mom and dad fought back vigorously.

July 30, 2011

America: A Little Less Tame

Recently a young male mountain lion walked from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Greenwich, Connecticut, where it unfortunately was struck and killed on a highway.

The appearance of this cat in Connecticut, where the only "cougars" were thought to be in the bar at the golf club, drew much media interest.

The New York Times turned to David Baron, whose book The Beast in the Garden thoughtfully explored human-mountain lion conflicts on Colorado's Front Range.
A single cougar, especially one that is now dead, is not going to transform the lives of many Americans, but what that cougar represents just might. Cougars possess a kind of Pleistocene wildness, reminding us of a time — deep in our evolutionary past — when we were prey to big cats. Even today, cougars in the West on rare occasions kill and eat people (more commonly they kill and eat dogs), and they are reclaiming former habitat, moving into the suburbs and onto the Great Plains. The Greenwich cat may have been a lone scout, but you can be sure others will follow. The resilient, elusive cats that haunt the Western landscape will increasingly haunt the East.
I walked the dogs up onto the national forest today, and they suddenly struck out for a patch of oak brush that they had ignored two days earlier.

Fisher trotted back out with a large bone in his mouth. I found Shelby standing in a smelly, fly-buzzing area of scattered hair and quickly leashed her before she decided to roll in it.

It looked at quick glance (I was busy dog-wrangling) like a lion might have killed a deer, and then other scavengers (bear? coyotes?) had moved in and cleaned up what the lion did not eat right away.

As Baron says, "America has grown a little less tame."

June 07, 2010

A Camera Trap in a Forest Fire

Despite the loss of the camera to the bears, I was pleased with my last set of camera-trap photos.

But here is something more amazing: a video camera trap that inadvertently captured a forest fire—the Station Fire last year near Los Angeles—as well as bears and mountain lion.

(I consider mountain lions to be my Holy Grail of camera trapping right now.)

It is just amazing that the camera itself survived. What a testimonial.


Angeles Requiem from Tocho on Vimeo.

(Via Wildfire Today.)

UPDATE: The creator of the video has disabled it, with these comments:

Thanks for the views and nice comments everyone. I originally just wanted to share this with friends. Didn't know it would go so viral. I don't want to upset anyone who lost property or loved ones in the fire. This is obviously not 'entertainment'. Also, I don't own the rights to the music, so until I get that sorted out I don't want the video being posted all over the place. Anyone have a classical choir I could borrow? :) Anyway, sorry, and thanks again. I think this was just a little too soon.

April 26, 2010

A New Mountain Lion-Awareness Video


In this four-minute video, the Colorado Division of Wildlife explains that you are unlikely to see a mountain lion in the wild but nevertheless offers suggestions for dealing with them. I like the guy with the bicycle.

Note the "guard animal" at 3:12 or so.

All well and good, but I can tell you from personal experience that throwing rocks and sticks may elicit mere curiosity from the big kitties. I have seen them respond to gun shots over their heads with merely a feline blink. "Hmm, loud noise."

Style note: I still cannot hear "recreate" as a verb without flinching, but what else do you say?

March 15, 2010

Wolves Kill Alaska Jogger--Implications for Colorado

The recent death of a woman runner in Alaska makes me wonder how the "New West" world of outdoor sports would mesh with increasing wolf populations here in Colorado.

Perhaps some of the people who welcome the wolves' return for ecological--and even spiritual--reasons are also the same people who do things like trail running.

The woman who gets out of the car is forty years old, athletic, the mother of two children, with shoulder-length reddish brown hair. She wears a pair of blue nylon shorts, a cranberry sleeveless T-shirt, running shoes, a hat, and cotton gloves against the morning chill. She locks the car and puts the key in a little pouch attached to one of her shoes. Carrying an apple and a water bottle, she leaves the road, running down the trail into the neighboring state park.

The writer is Jordan Fisher Smith, at the time a California state park ranger, reconstructing the death of Barbara Schoener, killed by a mountain lion near Auburn, California, in 1994, in his excellent book Nature Noir.

A similar event occurred in Idaho Springs, Colorado, in 1991 when a high-school cross-country runner, practicing alone, was ambushed by another mountain lion. (More attacks listed here.)

I suspect that back in the Stone Age, people did not go running alone for recreation—or if they did, they carried spears and looked over their shoulders frequently.

Colorado has a healthy mountain lion population. Now we have wolves moving in—inevitable, given the increasing populations to the north.

I understand the ecological aspects of wolf return—the trophic cascade and all that.

But we also have a recreational culture that regards the Colorado Rockies as a big gymnasium-with-trees, put there for the express purpose of skiing, mountain biking, trail-running, etc. Imagine the interaction of a wolf pack with the Leadville 100.

No one goes to the gym expecting to be eaten.