Colorado jogger survives mountain lion attack by strangling the big cat

This is quite possibly the world’s most badass jogger — and the luckiest.

A man was trail running in the Colorado wilderness Monday when he was attacked by a mountain lion. The victim was jogging on West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space when he heard something behind him.

That’s when he turned around and was attacked by a young, male mountain lion.

“The lion lunged at the runner, biting his face and wrist,” according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “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.”

Even more impressive, the runner used his bare hands to choke the big cat.

The jogger, who has not been identified, managed to get himself to hospital, and wildlife officers along with the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources, were notified.

What happened is incredibly rare.

“Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it is unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” Ty Petersburg, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement. “This could have had a very different outcome.”

Wildlife officers found the body of the cougar, along with some items the victim left behind on the trail.

The animal will undergo a necropsy.

So far, the cat tested negative for rabies and was found to be under a year old.

“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,” Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager, said in a statement.

In the last century, fewer than 20 fatalities in North America have been caused by cougars.

Cougar attacks are not common. Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Facebook

Since 1990, Colorado has counted16 people injured by cougars, and three fatalities.

Officials have now closed the Horsetooth Mountain and Soderberg trailheads at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space after more mountain lions were seen near the scene of the attack.

“We want to allow for a cooling off period before reopening Horsetooth Mountain Open Space,” Ken Brink Jr., visitor services manager for Larimer County Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “We are approaching this situation with an abundance of caution for the safety of our visitors.”

Patrols have also been increased.

The big cats are usually pretty elusive and avoid confrontation.

But if you ever find yourself face-to-face with one, officials offers some tips.

    • Do not approach a cougar. Give them a way to escape.
    • Speak calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back.
    • Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely.
    • Look as big as you can. Raise your arms, open your jacket, pick up children.
    • If the cat is aggressive, throw stones, branches and wave your arms slowly.
    • Fight back if attacked.

Colorado’s governor even weighed in.

“Don’t mess with Colorado trail runners, Governor Jared Polis wrote on Facebook. “A runner near Fort Collins killed an attacking mountain lion with his bare hands. Don’t try this yourself on purpose, as it is likely to end poorly for you.”

Photos Colorado Parks & Wildlife/Twitter

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.


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