Runner describes how he killed an aggressive mountain lion

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A mountain lion attacked trail runner Travis Kauffman in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Feb. 4. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

When Travis Kauffman set off on a 12-mile trail run in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Feb. 4 he couldn't have predicted what he would encounter.

Travis was alone on the trail when he heard pine needles rustling behind him. He turned and saw a young mountain lion just 10 feet away. Then the cat lunged at him.

"It grabbed onto my hand and wrist and from there it started to claw at my face and neck," Travis said. "There was a point where I was concerned that I wasn't going to make it out."

As the attack continued, they rolled off the trail, with the cat still locked onto his arm. Travis said he pushed fear aside and his fight instincts kicked in. He tried using a stick to get the mountain lion to release him. That didn't work, so he picked up a rock.

"I knew with two pretty good blows to the back of the head that it didn't release that I was probably going to have to do something a little more drastic," he said.

Ultimately, he was able to get the animal on its back.

"And I was able to kind of shift my weight and get a foot on its neck," Travis said. "Another couple of minutes later it finally, finally stopped moving and then jaws opened."

With his face and wrist covered in blood, he ran the three miles back down the trail and found some people who rushed him to the hospital.

Medical staff used 28 stitches to close the gashes in his face and the puncture wound in his arm left by the cat's claws and teeth.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff investigated the attack and conducted a necropsy on the animal. That confirmed Travis's account of the attack.

Mountain lions are also known as cougars, panthers, and pumas.

"Mountain lions are generally calm, quiet, and elusive," Colorado Parks and Wildlife says on its website.
"They tend to live in remote, primitive country with plentiful deer and adequate cover,"

But recently, the number of human encounters with mountain interactions has spiked, the agency said, because more homes are being built in lion country and more people are using hiking and running trails. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also believes that the number of mountain lions is increasing.

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