Mountain lion kills New Mexico man
By: Jo Baeza , The Independent
SILVER CITY, N.M. - New Mexico State Police confirmed the killing and eating of a 55-year-old man by a mountain lion near Silver City.
Sgt. Robert McDonald told The Independent June 26 that state police had received an autopsy report from medical examiners in Albuquerque confirming a lion was responsible for the death of Robert Nawojski.
Nawojski lived alone in a camper-trailer in the small community of Pinos Altos, about seven miles north of Silver City. According to the police report, Nawojski's brother said he liked to bathe himself at night outside the camper in summer as it is cooler. He said his brother liked being outdoors at night, looking at the stars while he was washing himself.
Nawojski was able to live independently, but his brother checked on him regularly. His brother could not reach him by phone on the night of June 17. When he couldn't get ahold of Nawojski the next day, the brother called state police and asked them to check on him.
State police called in a group of local volunteers to start a search-and-rescue mission.
Sgt. McDonald said Nawojski's partially eaten body was found about 80 yards from his camper.
"He was apparently killed outside his residence," McDonald said. "There was no evidence of any struggle."
Investigators found lion tracks as well as drag marks where the lion had dragged its kill by the shoulders and carefully covered blood and pieces of flesh with leaves and branches. The body itself was exposed when they found it.
According to state police, Game and Fish officers said the lion may have been prowling the area for a while, and may have been watching the man when he came outside to bathe at night. The lion was probably hungry, McDonald said, as the body was partially eaten.
Nawojski's camper was parked near the boundary of the Gila National Forest where the lion would normally have had a good supply of deer for prey. "As dry as it's been, the animals are going to come in looking for water," McDonald said. "Predators are opportunists. This lion probably killed the man because he was easy to get." The mountain lion that killed Nawojski was caught in a snare and killed June 25 by New Mexico Game and Fish officers.