|"When I am bigger, I will eat you." Mountain lion (cougar) kitten reclines on a donated|
fur coat at Wet Mountain Wildlife rehabilitation center.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.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.
“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."
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.