A man who survived a mountain lion attack by strangling it with his bare hands has spoken out about the injuries he sustained during the attack.
Travis Kauffman, 31, was running along the West Ridge Trail at the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Fort Collins, Colorado, on February 4 when he heard the animal approaching him.
He turned to see the mountain lion standing just metres away from him, seconds before it lunged and attacked him.
Kauffman wasn’t going down without a fight though, and decided to yell out and raise his hands in an attempt to deter the lion. When that didn’t work and the animal had locked its teeth on his wrist, the jogger grabbed a rock and hit the big cat on the back of the head.
He also tried stabbing it with twigs, The Guardian reports, but to no avail. It was at that point Kauffman realised nothing was working and he had to move fast if he wanted to survive.
He said in a press conference on Thursday (February 14):
I knew with two pretty good blows to the back of the head (and) it didn’t release, that I was probably going to have to do something a little more drastic. I was able to kind of shift my weight and get a foot on its neck.
The 31-year-old held his foot there until the mountain lion stopped moving and he was certain the animal couldn’t hurt him anymore.
It finally stopped moving and then the jaws opened and I was able to kind of scramble back up the hill and get the heck out of Dodge.
Kauffman, with a bloody face and wrist, then jogged back down the trail and bumped into other runners who took him to a hospital.
The keen runner was left with 28 stitches and cuts all over his face and wrist, with his girlfriend Annie Bierbower admitting she is ‘thankful that he had his eyes and his fingers and all his parts’, the Huffington Post reports.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers retrieved the dead cat and said their investigation confirmed Kauffman’s account of what happened.
Kauffman, who stands at 5ft 10in and weighs 70kg (approximately 11 stone), refers to himself as ‘puny’ and says he will never be able to live up to the tough reputation this story has got him.
The 31-year-old said:
I will never be able to live up to the reputation. The story is bigger than my puny form.
Kauffman describes himself as an avid runner, cyclist, and skier and says the incident will not prevent him from running the trail in the future.
He’s definitely a braver person than I am. Although, the chances of it happening again are apparently extremely small, with the Mountain Lion Foundation saying there’s more chance of a person getting hit by lightening or killed by a pet dog than getting attacked by the animal.
But Kauffman is proof that sometimes the (almost) impossible does happen.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).