FORT COLLINS – Wildlife officials say a man who fought off a young mountain lion on a northern Colorado trail killed the animal by suffocating it.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife says the man was running alone near Fort Collins when the lion attacked him from behind after the movement apparently triggered its hunting instincts.
The runner, whose name hasn’t been released, fought off the cougar, hiked out of the area after Monday’s attack and drove himself to a hospital. He suffered facial cuts, wrist injuries and puncture wounds to his arms, legs and back.
On Tuesday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the investigation confirmed the man’s account that he suffocated the animal.
A spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rebecca Ferrell, says the man did exactly the right thing by fighting back as hard as he could. Since he was just out for a run, he didn’t have anything to help him other than “sheer will.”
According to a news release, the man described hearing something behind him on the trail and was attacked by a mountain lion as he turned around to investigate. “The lion lunged at the runner, biting his face and wrist. He was able to fight and break free from the lion, killing the lion in self-defense. The runner sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries as a result of the attack.”
CPW said wildlife officers searched the trail area where the runner said the attack happened. The officers found the body of a juvenile mountain lion within feet of several possessions that the man asked the officers to look for on the trail. The lion has been taken to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife animal health lab for a necropsy.”
“The runner did everything he could to save his life. In the event of a lion attack you need to do anything in your power to fight back just as this gentleman did,” said Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager.
Mountain lions attacks are rare. Sixteen people have been injured and three killed by mountain lions in Colorado since 1990.
“Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it is unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” Ty Petersburg, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a news release. “This could have had a very different outcome.”
The agency isn’t identifying the man because of its investigation. He was hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery.
What to do if you encounter a mountain lionDo not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it.Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you’re wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they won’t panic and run.If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion.Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. We recommend targeting the eyes and nose as these are sensitive areas. Remain standing or try to get back up!