It wasn’t that long ago that Charles Zelenka watched a mountain lion kill an elk in the middle of the night on his porch in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He was lucky enough to see the mountain lion through his window and chose to stay inside instead of opening the door to investigate the ruckus.
Michael Warren of Montezuma County, Colorado, didn’t have the same luck.
According to a press release, Warren, 47, heard commotion on his front porch at around 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 27. He knew his domestic cats were outside and he assumed they were fighting and causing the stir. His dogs started barking loudly inside the home, so he opened the door slightly and stuck his right leg in the doorway to keep the dogs from running out. At that moment, a cat of a different breed dug its claws into his lower leg, leaving multiple puncture wounds. Warren then watched the offender run away. He immediately called emergency services to report the attack but chose to forego medical treatment.
Footage from a nearby security camera confirmed the claws belonged to a mountain lion, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said in the press release.
“Judging by the tracks we found and the footage we have along with the victim’s statement, we believe it is a young, sub-adult lion,” CPW district wildlife manager Matt Sturdevant said. “We also believe it is the same lion that had been hanging out in the area for a bit.”
Warren used to have four domestic cats until two recently went missing. CPW officials think the same mountain lion might have been the culprit and was returning to Warren’s home for another meal. A different call to CPW nine days prior reported a mountain lion depredation of chickens and another housecat in the same area.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” Sturdevant said. “We are still looking into it and want to make sure we get the right offending lion. Any help from the surrounding area and the public would be helpful.”
The most recent mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado was on March 11, 2020, and there have been 23 attacks in Colorado since 1990, CPW said. Three of those attacks were fatal. Most of the time, though, interactions with cougars end without injury.
“Though mountain lion attacks on people do happen, they are exceedingly rare,” Joshua Lisbon, mountain lion researcher and outreach coordinator for MPG Ranch, told MeatEater. “Statistically, your drive to the trailhead poses a greater risk than the cougars who live in the forests. But as we choose to build our houses and recreate more in the wildland-urban interface, we increase our chances of having an encounter with the wildlife who call those places home.”
MeatEater wishes Warren and his pets a full and speedy recovery.