Was the young cougar who attacked a runner recently in Colorado likely to have been old enough to live independently of its mother?
Warning: Contains details that may be too graphic for some cat lovers.
Today's New York Times has an article titled Man who Strangled Cougar Cited a Lesson from His Cat. See He's no Chuck Norris but he did kill a mountain lion.
According to this story, given at a news conference on Thursday (02/14), in the presence of Colorado wildlife officials, the cougar was "perhaps 50 pounds". Mr. Kauffman, the runner, is 5 foot 10 inches and 150 pounds. He said he feared all through the encounter that the young cougar's "mother would come along and end the fight".
Wildlife officials said "they trapped two other young mountain lions....after Mr. Kauffman was ambushed and both appeared to have been hungry."
Mr. Kauffman killed the young cat with two legs, one knee on the cat's rear legs and the other foot on the cat's neck, plus one hand, the wrist of the other hand being firmly gripped in the cat's jaws throughout.
My question: At what age do cougars live independently of their mothers, and is a 50 pound young cougar likely to be successful enough as a hunter to survive independently? (A picture of a cougar of this age/weight would be most welcome, but is not necessary to satisfactorily answer this question.)
One can't help but speculate that the three juvenile cougars were litter-mates and that their mother might have been dead.