A man who was attacked by a mountain lion while running on a park trail in northern Colorado fought back and killed the animal by choking it, wildlife officials said.
The man was said to have been running alone at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins on Monday when he heard something behind him on the trail and was attacked as he turned back to investigate.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the young lion — its hunting instincts apparently triggered by the movement — lunged at the runner, biting his face and wrist, but the man was able to break free and kill the lion.
We've stepped up patrols at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space following yesterday's incident between a mountain lion & visitor. Remember you're recreating in lion habitat when you visit Horsetooth Mountain. Tips if you encounter a lion: https://t.co/x9F6MRQ42c #HTMOS @CPW_NE pic.twitter.com/m3amq0DxLU— Larimer County DNR (@LCDNR) February 5, 2019
The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries but was expected to make a full recovery.
He has not been identified by authorities, who say their investigation into the attack remains ongoing.
• Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.— Colorado Parks and Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) February 5, 2019
• Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it.
Rebecca Ferrell, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said an examination of the animal confirmed the man’s account that he had choked it.
She said the runner did exactly what experts recommend in a rare encounter with a mountain lion — fight back as hard as you can.
• Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.— Colorado Parks and Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) February 5, 2019
• Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you're wearing one.
They also advise trying to get back up on your feet if knocked over, look as big as possible and use anything handy as a weapon, such as a backpack or keys. But the man who was attacked did not have any gear to help him.
“He did this just out of sheer will and defence of himself,” Ms Ferrell said.
• 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.— Colorado Parks and Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) February 5, 2019
Mountain lion attacks are rare because they tend to avoid humans. There have been fewer than 20 people killed by the animals in North America in more than 100 years.
In Colorado, where their population is strong, 16 people have been injured by mountain lions and three have been killed since 1990.