Wildlife officials say an unidentified man is recovering in a Fort Collins, CO hospital after he had to kill a mountain lion in self-defense while he was running on a popular mountain trail, reports the Coloradoan. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said in a release that the man was running alone on the park’s West Ridge Trail when he encountered the wild animal.
“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. “This could have had a very different outcome.”
The man told authorities that he was running alone on the park’s West Ridge Trail when he heard something behind him on the trail. As he turned to see what it was, the mountain lion attacked. He said the animal bit him on the face and wrist, but he managed to break free and fight back against the lion. While defending himself, he killed the juvenile mountain lion that weighed about 80 pounds or more.
The unidentified man sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries, authorities said.
“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.
Wildlife officials found the dead mountain lion near where the runner said the incident occurred. They also picked up some items the man said he dropped while he was fighting the wild animal. The park was briefly closed while officials investigated the incident, reopening Monday night.
Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare in Colorado with only three people killed over the past thirty years. The last two fatal attacks in Colorado occurred in Larimer County. In 1999, 3-year-old Jaryd Atadero was killed on the Big South Trail in upper Poudre Canyon. In 1997, 10-year-old Mark Miedema was killed by a mountain lion in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Wildlife officials say mountain lions are elusive animals and try to avoid most humans.