Runner who killed a mountain lion with his bare hands explains how he fought for his life

Runner who killed a mountain lion with his bare hands explains how he fought for his life

On February 4th, Travis Kauffman was attacked by a mountain lion in Colorado. The runner had been taking one of his usual routes through Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Fort Collins when he was approached by the 40lb animal, who apparently showed absolutely no signs of fear towards him.

Kauffman had not been wearing his earphones that day, and so was alerted to the lion's presence when he heard the cracking of some pine needles behind him.

"I stopped and turned," he said. "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."

The 31-year-old, who is an experienced trail runner, did all he could to deter the lion. He made a lot of noise, waved his hands above his head, and moved in a way that he knew was supposed to prevent an attack. Unfortunately, his efforts did not work, and the big cat pounced on him.

Now, more than a week after the attack, Kauffman has explained how he got away with his life.

"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," he said to radio show KUNC. "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."

After subduing the animal, he managed to run three miles in order to find help.

mountain lion Credit: Pexels

Speaking to Buzzfeed news, Rebecca Ferrell, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said that Kauffman "did what he had to do" in order to get out alive.

"It's definitely not something you hear every day," she said. "We know it sounds hard to believe, but his survival instinct kicked in and he did what he had to do."

The big cat was under a year old, she explained, and probably attacked Kauffman because it still had not properly learned how to hunt. "He was a juvenile and didn't know the risk versus reward of attacking a human versus an animal," Ferrell explained. "It was startled by something running and decided to pounce."

Needless to say, Kauffman is incredibly lucky to be alive.