Unarmed runner kills mountain lion that attacked him on trail

Posted at 8:33 AM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 10:33:48-05

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - A trail runner on Horsetooth Mountain Park killed a juvenile mountain lion that attacked him Monday afternoon by suffocating the animal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported.

The victim of the attack described hearing something behind him on the West Ridge trail and was attacked by a mountain lion as he turned around to investigate, according to KDVR.

The lion lunged at the runner, biting his face and wrist. He was able to fight and break free from the lion, killing the lion in self-defense. The runner sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries as a result of the attack, CPW said.

As wildlife officers searched the trail area, the body of a juvenile mountain lion was found within feet of several possessions that the victim had asked the officers to look for on the trail. The lion has been taken to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife animal health lab for a necropsy.

CPW said the runner "defended himself without the use of weapons." 

“The runner did everything he could to save his life. In the event of a lion attack you need to do anything in your power to fight back just as this gentleman did,” said Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager.

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and Soderberg trailheads were temporarily closed shortly after the attack.

Perry Will with Colorado Parks & Wildlife gave tips on how to survive an attack. “Obviously you want to fight back if you are attacked. Definitely fight back. Because there’s a lot of people that have had that happen. I think that’s when the realization to the lion is: that’s not my normal prey.”

Wild Aware Utah provides tips for avoiding encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife as well as advice for how to respond should you encounter a wild animal. 

See below for their tips regarding encounters with mountain lions, which are also called cougars:

  • Stop. Never run from a cougar. Do not approach the cougar.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Pick up children and pets or keep them very close.
  • Stand up tall.
  • Do not crouch or squat.
  • Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head.
  • Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly and leave the area.
  • Fight back if you are attacked! Protect your head and neck.
  • If you are aggressive enough the cougar will probably flee.