Officials reveal runner who killed mountain lion with bare hands was wrestling with a 'kitten'
In early February, Travis Kauffman was jogging along a trail at the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins, Colorado, when he was attacked. The runner has previously spoken about the experience, in which he escaped by the skin of his teeth.
It just so happened that Kauffman had chosen not to wear his earphones that day, so heard the lion behind him before it attacked. The experienced trail runner did his best to deter the lion, waving his hands and making noise to seem intimidating, but it did little to help him during the incident. He explained:
"I stopped and turned. And it's one of those situations where sometimes I turn, sometimes I don't. But in the back of my mind I always wonder if it's something dangerous like a bear or a bobcat or a mountain lion, and in this case it was in fact a mountain lion. So I remember seeing that and just having my gut feel the full impact of the situation."
Speaking on radio show KUNC, he spoke more directly about the experience and how he managed to survive the attack:
"It was going up towards my face so I threw up my hands to kind of block my face, at which point it grabbed onto my hand and wrist and from there it started to claw at my face and neck. And that's when kind of my fear response turned into more of a fight response.
"Because I'm a recent cat owner, I know that the back claws are pretty dangerous when it comes down to an attack. And I was pretty worried about its claws just sinking into my stomach and groin area.
"I was able to shift my weight and get a foot on its neck ... I stepped on its neck with my right foot and just slowly after a few minutes I thought I would be getting close and then it would start thrashing again and I had a few more scratches that resulted from those thrashes at that point, and I'd say another couple minutes later it finally stopped moving."
However, it may be that initial reports and testimony from Kauffman may have sounded a little more extreme than the reality. While it is definitely true that Travis fought off a mountain lion, officials have confirmed that it was incredibly young, referring to the three-month-old big cat as more of a 'kitten', according to the Coloradoan.
A report by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife veterinarians in Fort Collins following their necropsy revealed that the lion weighed between 34 to 40 pounds when it was alive. However, some of the details were hard to get down in more accurate detail due to the remains of the lion once it was found.
Other animals, including the dead lion's siblings, had started to consume its remains - bringing its weight down to 24 pounds. Officials have stated the sex of the animal as male, but cannot 100% confirm it due to the scavenging.
The 31-year-old Kauffman, who is 5 foot 10 inches and weighs 150 pounds, suffered minor injuries to his face, neck, hand, back, and thigh during the struggle. Despite the fact the lion was young, Wildlife officials have insisted that Kauffman did all the right things when defending himself from the sudden attack.