Colorado Trail Runner Kills Mountain Lion in Self-Defense

A trail runner killed a mountain lion that attacked him in Colorado, escaping the frightening encounter on Monday, Feb. 4, with bites to the face and wrist.  The jogger, whose identity has yet to be released, killed the mountain lion by suffocation.

“After additional investigation, including examination of the lion, we have confirmed the victim’s account that he was able to suffocate the animal while defending himself from attack,” according to a tweet from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife account Tuesday morning.

The runner said he heard something behind him, and when he turned around to examine the noise, the juvenile cougar attacked.  He sustained bites to the face and wrist, and although the injuries are serious, they aren’t life threatening.

Rebecca Ferrell, spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the Denver Post that after struggling with the mountain lion, the man was able to jump on the animal’s back, and using his hands, arms, and feet, he choked the animal to death.

The  2,700-acre park with hiking and biking trails where the man was attacked is not far from Fort Collins, CO.

Although many mountain lions inhabit Colorado’s foothills (estimated 3,000 to 7,000 across the state), attacks on humans are exceptionally rare. Only 27 fatalities have been documented in North America, and just two in Colorado, over the last 100 years.

“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. “This could have had a very different outcome.”

Last year were a pair of these exceptions, as a Washington man was killed while trying to escape on his mountain bike, and another incident of a woman being killed in Oregon.

What to do in the case of a mountain lion encounter

In the scenario that you cross paths with a cougar, under no circumstances should you turn your back and run, as this may trigger the cat’s chase instinct.  Conversely, the best course of action is to back away slowly while looking as big and intimidating as possible, leaving the lion the opportunity to flee the scene.

In the event that a mountain lion does attack, the correct course of action is to do whatever possible to fight back.  “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,” says Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager.  

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Comments 1

  • Mike S : Feb 6th

    I have a jolly greeting to new and old acquaintances. “How’s life at your end of the food chain?” As it turns out, where you are determines how well you’re doing.

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