Earlier this month a jogger went for a run, as he had likely done many times in his life, and came back with a nearly unbelievable story. He was attacked by a mountain lion. Even more shocking, he killed the creature with his bare hands.
Thirty-one year old Travis Kauffman moved to Fort Collins, Colorado around five years ago. He wanted to embrace the active, outdoors lifestyle that many people from that region favor. On February 4th, he went running in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near his home. He heard the rustle of pine needles nearby and looked behind him. He said he wouldn’t normally check, as those types of sounds usually belong to small animals, but that turned out not to be the case.
Predator becomes prey
He saw a mountain lion approximately 10 feet away from him. He reacted quickly, throwing up his arms and yelling, hoping the animal would be frightened and retreat. Instead, the mountain lion leapt at him, clamping down on his wrist. Kauffman attempted to shield his face from the large cat’s claws as it scratched at his face and extremities.
They rolled off the trail and down an embankment. Kauffman said his survival instincts took over. He attempted to hit the mountain lion with a stick and then a rock, but it would not let go. He realized he would have to take more extreme measures to save his life.
Kauffman shifted his body and managed to get his foot on the mountain lion’s neck. The animal suffocated and finally released his wrist. But he was not completely safe just yet.
His face and wrist injured and bloodied, Kauffman ran three miles down the trail to find assistance. He was nervous the entire way that he might encounter another mountain lion. Another runner found him and ran back down the trail with him, where they saw a couple near the parking lot. One rushed him to a local hospital while the other two retrieved his truck.
Doctors gave him 28 stitches in his face and hands – he’d sustained a large cut on his cheek, a cut across his nose, and puncture wounds in his wrist.
Authorities found the mountain lion and determined that it was four or five months old, weighing between 35 to 40 pounds. It tested negative for rabies.
Animal experts say that mountain lions generally don’t attack humans, are calm, and avoid people. This instance was one in a million. However, they also concede that as humans increasingly move into the habitat of these animals that more encounters may happen.
Even so, Kauffman says he is glad he moved to Colorado. But he hopes to admire wildlife “at a distance” in the future.