The Kittens Are Alright

Delinquent cougar cubs get a second chance at survival.

Remember Travis Kauffman, the mountain lion killer? He’s recovering fine, thank you very much. Oh, and the siblings of the “kitten” that attacked him? They’re also on the mend. 

Kauffman was able to fend off an attack from an 80-pound youngster while running at Horsetooth Reservoir this February. The cub had been abandoned, and two other kittens believed to be from the same litter were later trapped nearby. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife does not, as a rule, release the location of its rehabilitation centers, including the one that tended to the siblings of Kauffman’s immature stalker. It does, however, work hard to give orphaned lions “a fighting chance by helping them grow up until they can fend for themselves,” says Jason Clay, CPW Public Information Officer. The ultimate goal is to release them back into the wild this summer. 

Unfortunately, not all orphaned mountain lions that are brought in to rehab centers can survive on their own, Clay says. But according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, these particular cats were trapped hungry and disease-free, and therefore had a good chance. CPW has multiple licensed rehabilitation centers across the state that take in all sorts of injured wildlife, from mountain lions to bears to raptors.

The mountain lion population across the state is actually quite healthy overall, according to Clay. In fact, he estimates that there may be 4,000 to 5,500 mountain lions at large in the state. In other words, we better to learn to get along. 

“If you live or recreate in the foothills, mountains or canyons of Colorado,  you are sharing space with these large, powerful predators,” Clay says. Foothills-adjacent exurban areas are prime deer habitat—and therefore mountain lion country. And we Coloradans definitely like to play in those exact spots. Still, the CPW says that lion attacks on people are rare, and are mostly perpetrated by “kittens” forced out to hunt on their own.

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