A man running on a trail in Horsetooth Mountain Park in Colorado was attacked and injured by a mountain lion before killing the animal in self-defence.
The runner, whose name has not been released, was jogging alone when he heard something following him on the trail. When he turned to look, a mountain lion pounced and bit him on the face and wrist.
The man was able to fight back by suffocating the mountain lion to death, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Northeast Region (CPW). It is unclear how the man killed the big cat.
He was then able to hike to a local hospital to treat his serious, but not life-threatening injuries, and report the incident to the police.
The man also reportedly did not have any weapons in his possession at the time of the attack. In other words, he was able to kill the mountain lion with his bare hands.
The police described the mountain lion as a juvenile and that the man killed the cat as an act of self-defence. State park officials found the body of the lion near the personal items the runner asked the police to recover for him. The body of the cat was then taken for examination to the state health lab and it reportedly weighed at least 80 pounds.
Mountain lion attacks are rare in Colorado.
“Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it is unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” CPW wildlife manager Ty Petersburg told the Denver Post. “This could have had a very different outcome.”
The park closed temporarily following the attack to conduct an investigation, but it was re-opened on Monday evening. The parks service said that there are less than 20 mountain lion-related fatalities in more than a century, noting that the big cats are “elusive animals” who “tend to avoid humans”.
However, CPW said that if people were to meet with a mountain lion, they should not run. “Running may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack,” it said.
It offered advice for people who would ever face such an encounter. “Face the mountain lion, stand tall, and make yourself appear larger by raising your arms and opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Never turn your back.”
The parks service said that it’s not game over if the cat attacks. “People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully,” CPW added.
“If you have to fight, the parks service recommends targeting the animal’s eyes and nose.”
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