Runner survives attack by suffocating mountain lion

/ CBS News

Fort Collins, Colorado – A runner who was attacked by a juvenile mountain lion killed the animal through suffocation, according to Colorado wildlife officials.

The man was on a trail Monday afternoon at Horsetooth Mountain park in Colorado when he was attacked from behind by the cat, who reportedly bit his face and wrist. He also suffered puncture wounds to his arms, legs and back, CBS Denver reports.

The runner survived after fighting off the cat, hiking to safety and taking himself to a hospital.

Officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Tuesday morning in a tweet an examination of the animal confirmed "the victim's account that he was able to suffocate the animal while defending himself from the attack."

"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.

Parks and Wildlife's Rebecca Ferrell said the man, whose name hasn't been released, recently read an article on how to handle an attack from mountain lions. He was able to use that knowledge while responding to the incident.

Ferrell said attacks on humans are very rare. However, if someone ever encounters a mountain lion, it is best to make yourself big, loud and calm, she said. Running away is a bad idea because the cat's hunting instincts could kick in, starting a chase, she added.

Those like Penny Bossert, who frequent the trail, said they were impressed the man was able to kill the cat, even if it was less than one year old.

"He obviously is a strong guy. I don't know if I would be able to do the same thing," Bossert said. "It gives me a little bit of hesitation as to whether or not I really want to go up (the trail)."

Not everyone was intimidated by the recent attack. Rudy Schmidt said he knew there were dangers that came with exploring wildlands. He said the attack would heighten his alertness, but would not keep him away from the trails.

"It makes it a little more exciting if there are some animals around. Makes it like it's a little more wild country," Schmidt said. "I carry some bear spray, just to be on the safe side. But it makes the country more interesting."

There have been 16 injuries as a result of mountain lion attacks since 1990 and three human fatalities in Colorado.

The cat that attacked the runner was tested for disease, and results were negative for rabies. Parks and Wildlife officials said they were unable to test the cat's weight because a cannibalistic mountain lion likely got ahold of the deceased cat before investigators.

Larimer County officials announced Tuesday they were temporarily closing the park because of the attack. They said they want "to allow for a cooling off period before reopening."

First published on February 6, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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