Colorado man who strangled mountain lion
describes life-or-death struggle
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[February 15, 2019]
By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A 31-year-old man who
fended off and suffocated a mountain lion when it attacked him on a
Colorado jogging trail last week described on Thursday how he killed the
big cat by stepping on its throat during a life-and-death struggle.
Speaking for the first time publicly since the Feb. 4 incident that left
him with still-visible lacerations on his neck and face, Travis Kauffman
described for reporters the harrowing three-minute encounter.
Kauffman said he was running at the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space,
about 65 miles northwest of Denver, when he heard pine needles rustling
and turned his head only to come face-to-face with a young cougar.
"I was bummed out to see a mountain lion," he said at a news conference
in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the environmental consultant lives with
Kauffman raised his arms and shouted at the cougar, but it pounced and
locked its jaw on his right wrist and clawed at his face. His attempts
to halt the attack by stabbing the predator with sticks and hitting it
on the head with a rock were to no avail.
Ultimately, he was able to pin the cougar down and put his foot on its
neck and choke it until it stopped thrashing. He worried during the
struggle that another cougar would come along and join the tussle.
"My fear response turned into more of a fight response," he said.
Mountain lions, also known as pumas or panthers, are native to the
Americas and their range extends from the Canadian Yukon to the tip of
South America, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
[to top of second column]
Travis Kauffman, a trail runner who fought off a mountain lion
attack at Horsetooth Mountain, in Larimer County, Colorado on
February 4, embraces Annie Bierbouer before a news conference at
Colorado Parks & Wildlife office in Fort Collins, Colorado, Feb. 14,
2019. Courtesy of Colorado Parks & Wildlife/Handout via REUTERS
Cougar attacks on humans are rare, however, with fewer than 20
reported fatalities in North America over the last 100 years,
according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
There are between 4,500 and 5,500 mountain lions in Colorado, and
since 1990 the state has seen 16 people injured and three killed
from mountain lion attacks, the agency said.
Kauffman, who is 5-feet-10 inches tall and weighs about 155 pounds,
said he had "zero" martial arts or wrestling training, and acted
purely on adrenaline.
"The decisions were pretty instinctual," he added.
The wounds to his face, neck, wrist and legs required more than 20
stitches. Kauffman admitted that he was lucky to survive the attack
without any permanent injuries.
"I should go buy a bunch of lottery tickets," he said.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, editing by G Crosse)
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