A Colorado man who was attacked by a mountain lion while running escaped with serious but non-lifethreatening injuries after he managed to kill the animal with his bare hands.
The unnamed man was running in Horsetooth Mountain Park, near Fort Collins, on Monday when a juvenile mountain lion attacked him from behind, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife. The mountain lion bit the man’s face and wrist but he was able to fight back and kill it in self-defense, telling investigators that he suffocated the animal, according to The Coloradoan.
The man was interviewed Tuesday in the hospital by CPW investigators and gave a more full account of the encounter. CPW spokeswoman Rebecca Ferrell relayed the story to the Denver Post.
The victim heard the cat approach him from behind and tried to scare it off by raising his arms and yelling, only to have the animal attack him anyway, biting his face and wrists. The man tried to use a rock to bash the animal’s skull but the strikes did loosen the grip on his forearm. Eventually the man was able to free his arm and decided to go on the offensive, getting on the animal’s back and using his hands, arms and feet to choke it to death.
The man was then able to get out of the park and drive himself to a hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.
“Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it is unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” CPW area wildlife manager Ty Petersburg said in a statement. “This could have had a very different outcome.”
Authorities discovered the mountain lion’s body near where the man said the attack occurred and estimated that it could weigh more than 80 pounds.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are incredibly rare. In the last 100 years, fewer than 20 people have been killed by mountain lions in North America, according to CPW, and only 16 people have been injured (three fatally) by mountain lions in Colorado since 1990.