Near Fort Collins, Colorado, a man running through the West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space killed a mountain lion after the animal attacked him yesterday afternoon. Remarkably, the man used nothing but his bare hands to fend off the animal’s deadly advances. He escaped relatively unscathed considering the circumstances with the lion only biting his wrist and face.
Officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and Larimer County searched the trail in question and found a dead juvenile mountain lion. They ruled the animal dead via suffocation and reopened the park after briefly closing it, according to a press release.
The man reportedly heard something creeping up behind him while on a run and then turned around to find the animal lunging at him. He “sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries” during the fight, and managed to alert authorities and get himself to a hospital on his own accord.
Authorities note that mountain lion attacks are rare in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen. “The runner did everything he could to save his life,” said Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager. “In the event of a lion attack, you need to do anything in your power to fight back just as this gentleman did.”
CPW notes that Colorado has seen only 16 injuries and three fatalities as a result of mountain lion attacks since 1990. Further, there’s only been 20 fatalities across the entirety of North America in the last century due to mountain lions attacking humans.
“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.”
CPW also listed a bunch of tips if you find yourself going toe-to-toe with a mountain 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!
But while you work on your lion wrestling skills, your best bet is to steer clear of these large, hungry cats.