The mountain lion that mauled a Colorado runner on Monday was later devoured by other animals — possibly other mountain lions — which made it difficult for officials who later conducted a necropsy, or animal autopsy, to identify the big cat’s gender and official weight.
Ty Petersburg, a terrestrial biologist with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the Coloradoan the feline’s organs had been eaten just two hours after officials had received the initial call about the man, who has not yet been identified publicly, being attacked.
“We don’t know for sure what ate it, but mountain lions are known to be cannibalistic,’’ Petersburg said. "At least, it’s a possibility but can't confirm it.’’
That said, wildlife officials have estimated the lion was a juvenile, meaning it wasn’t yet fully developed. It was likely less than a year old and weighed roughly 80 pounds.
The necropsy did reveal, however, that the animal was not rabid, according to the Coloradoan, which noted the full results will be released “at a later date.”
The victim, said to be in his 30s, was attacked from behind on West Ridge Trail in the Larimer County foothills during a run. The man was bitten on his face and wrist before he managed to pick up a rock and slam the animal on the head. He jumped on the animal’s back and choked it to death with his hands, arms and feet, Rebecca Ferrell, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, previously said.
"At that point, it was kind of a fight for survival between him and [the] lion."
He was treated for his injuries — including facial bite wounds and lacerations to his body — before being released Tuesday morning. He is expected to make a full recovery.
In a separate interview, Petersburg told 9News the man apparently did everything wildlife officials recommend when encountering a wild animal of this kind, such as putting his hands in the air, making noise and standing his ground.
Still, the feline attacked.
"At that point, it was kind of a fight for survival between him and [the] lion," Petersburg said, adding the man “was really creative” and used “his hands, feet [and ]things that were around him” to protect himself.
Fox News' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.