WALSENBURG, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is again reminding the public to leave wildlife alone after removing a sick mountain lion kitten from a private home.
Officials say someone found the kitten — believed to be under six months old — took it home and fed it bratwurst. Officials say the kitten was probably not yet weaned from its mother’s milk and may have previously only eaten regurgitated solids from its mother.
The people in possession of the kitten published photos Monday on social media showing it in a cage, officials stated. They claimed they found it in a snowbank after a snowplow passed by. They also claimed they released it back to the wild after allowing it to “thaw out.”
“Wild animals do not need to ‘thaw out’ because they are equipped by nature to survive cold and snow,” said Travis Sauder, CPW district wildlife manager.
In truth, the kitten was still at their home in Walsenburg, officials said. Sauder retrieved the kitten Tuesday and sent it to the nonprofit Wet Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation in Wetmore.
“If you find wildlife you believe to be orphaned, leave the area immediately and call CPW,” said Sauder. “By leaving the area, mom will feel safe to come back and retrieve her young. Many animals intentionally leave their young behind when startled, relying on the built-in camouflage of the youngsters’ spotted fur to keep them safe. The mother will then return to retrieve its young once the area is safe.”
Sauder said the people kept the kitten far too long to return to where it was found.
“It had been almost 30 hours since it was picked up Monday and its mom would not be in the area any longer. This is why it’s vital to leave baby wildlife where you find them and call us immediately,” he said. “When we do have orphaned wildlife, it’s important we get them to licensed rehabilitators who specialize in raising these wild animals, who know what to feed them and how to care for them so we can successfully release them back into the wild once they mature.”
Although sick from being fed bratwurst, the kitten appeared to be in good health otherwise.
CPW officials issued a reminder to the public that it is illegal to possess wild animals and dangerous to the animals’ health.