Rocky Mountain News
By Charley Able
A necropsy found no traces of human blood on a mountain lion believed to have attacked a youngster near Boulder on April 16, a Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman said Tuesday.
Despite the inconclusive test results, DOW investigators believe the mountain lion is the same one that injured 7-year-old Shir Feldman on a trail west of Boulder as he walked with his father.
The animal was killed by a wildlife officer after it was tracked and treed about a half-mile from the site of the attack on Artist Point near the summit of Flagstaff Mountain.
The female’s carcass was examined by the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic lab in Laramie, but tests of 21 samples taken from the animal’s claws and face revealed no evidence of human blood, said Tyler Baskfield, DOW spokesman.
Tests on a piece of tissue found on one of the animal’s claws turned out to be inconclusive, Baskfield said.
The mountain lion was spotted about two hours after the attack within 30 yards of Artist Point. Because mountain lions are generally solitary animals and tracking dogs found no other scent trails in the area, DOW investigators think the 5-year-old, 84-pound animal attacked the boy.
The blood tests key on proteins to determine the presence and source of blood traces but Baskfield said typical mountain lion behavior, including grooming and extending claws while walking, could have removed any traces of blood.
“At this point, we believe we have been as thorough as we can be. Because of the logistics of what took place that night, we still are confident that this is the right cat, it is very probable that this is the right cat,” Baskfield said.
The necropsy revealed the mountain lion was in excellent condition and its stomach contents included the remains of a rabbit it apparently ate about five or six hours before it was killed.
That would put the animal’s last meal at or just after the time of the attack on Shir Feldman.
“It’s unusual for an older cat to get into conflicts with humans. Typically, it’s 1- to 3-year-old animals,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of the Carnivore Protection Program at Sinapu, a Boulder-based conservation group.
Female mountain lions typically send their kittens out when they are 10 to 24 months old, Keefover-Ring said. It’s while looking to establish their territory that the young cats get into conflicts with humans, she added.
The boy was hiking with his parents, Zur and Anat Feldman, his twin brother and his older brother, Tal Feldman, a University of Colorado freshman. The family lives in Rockville, Md.
The mountain lion grabbed the boy by the jaw, but the youngster’s family members immediately sprang into action, pelting the animal with sticks and rocks. The mountain lion quickly dropped the boy and ran away.
Shir Feldman was treated for what were described as serious but not life-threatening injuries, including a broken jaw, at Boulder Community Hospital. He later was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver. Hospital officials have declined to discuss the child’s condition or how long he was under treatment at the hospital.