Ever wondered what it feels like to be attacked by a big cat? Read on
Jogger says his fear response 'turned into more of a fight response' when the mountain lion pounced
An American has told for the first time of his fight to the death with a mountain lion, describing in graphic detail how he wrestled with the animal on a remote Colorado mountain before killing it with his foot.
Travis Kauffman, 31, was halfway through his 20km run along the ice-covered trails west of Fort Collins when he heard the bushes rustling, and the mountain lion jumped out.
“One of my worst fears was confirmed,” he said, recalling his response to the February 4 2019 attack. “I was bummed out to see a mountain lion.” But then, he said, his “fear response turned into more of a fight response”.
Kauffman, standing about 1.7m and weighing 63kg, waved his hands above his head and yelled to try to scare the big cat. But the animal kept approaching, and then lunged at him, latching on to his wrist and clawing at his face and legs.
“I was just kind of screaming the whole time, doing my barbarian yell,” he said. He tried to throw the animal off him, but the adolescent beast was strong and the pair tumbled together down the hill. “It became a bit of a wrestling match,” Kauffman said.
He said he had no martial arts or wrestling training and acted purely on adrenaline. “The decisions were pretty instinctual,” he added. He explained that, as a new cat owner, he knew a little about animal behaviour and realised he could not let the animal’s hind legs get underneath him, because his “guts” and groin would be injured. So he used his knee to pin down the lion’s back legs. He tried to stab it with some nearby sticks, but they were rotten and kept breaking, so he picked up a rock and was able to hit it in the back a few times. But still the animal fought on.
Soon he was able to move his right leg close to his wrist, which was in the grip of the lion’s teeth, and stepped on its neck until he suffocated it. Covered in blood, he then ran down the trail on a “fear high”. He ran into a couple near a parking lot, and was driven to hospital where he needed 25 stitches on his face and three on his wrist, where the mountain lion had latched on. “My face was kind of a bloody mess when I first got there.”
He had several puncture wounds from the animal’s teeth and claws, but is expected to make a full recovery.
More juveniles captured
Originally from Mountain Home, Arkansas, Kauffman has lived in Fort Collins for five years with his girlfriend, Annie Bierbouer, and said he is a keen cyclist, runner and skier.
Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, where the attack occurred, reopened to the public on Wednesday after officials found and captured two other juvenile mountain lions that they believe are the siblings of the lion involved.
“About a week out, and I feel great,” said Kauffman. “It's a modern-day man vs nature scenario.”
He joked about his size, saying: “I will never be able to live up to the reputation. The story is bigger than my puny form.”
Mountain lions roam from the Canadian Yukon to the tip of South America. Attacks on humans are rare and there have been fewer than 20 reported deaths in North America over the past century, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
– © The Daily Telegraph