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When a man was attacked by an 80-pound mountain lion this past Monday while running near Fort Collins, Colorado, he was able to break free of the lion’s hold and strangle it to death with his bare hands.
“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, northeast region manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said on CNN. According to The Washington Post, the man heard noises behind him while he was running on the trails. When he turned around to see what was happening, the lion lunged at him. Ty Petersburg, a wildlife manager for the CPW, said that “the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner.”
After killing the lion, the runner was able to call for help and was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. The CPW service closed down the park for the following day and park officials tweeted that the lion was a juvenile male and that it didn’t have rabies.
We can also confirm the lion in this case was less than a year old, and we may be able to determine age a bit more tightly in the final reports. The cat also tested negative for rabies, which is very welcome news.
— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) February 5, 2019
Rangers will assess the safety of the park to determine when it will reopen to the public. “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 CPW, said to CNN. “This could have had a very different outcome.”
Officials report that less than 20 people have been killed in North America by mountain lions in more than 100 years. In Colorado alone, three people have been killed and 16 injured in mountain lion attacks since 1990. Colorado Governor Jared Polis took to Facebook to discuss the incident, telling people “don’t mess with Colorado trail runners” and provided safety tips if you ever find yourself encountering a mountain lion.
Thanks to Gov. Polis, we now all know what to do if we’re ever encountered by a mountain lion. It seems when you live in a state like Colorado, that’s just part of being governor.
According to the BCC, the typically elusive mountain lions have been only known to attack when they are starving or sick. Younger lions are often forced to hunt on their own before they are ready. Otherwise, lions tend to keep their distance from humans. The animal in Monday’s attack is being taken to a nearby lab for a post-mortem examination. In May 2018, a cyclist was killed and another injured in Washington State by a mountain lion officials described as “emaciated.” In September 2018, a hiker was found dead in Oregon and is suspected to be the state’s first victim of a fatal mountain lion attack.
If ever encountered with a mountain lion in the wild, don’t run—that’ll trigger their hunting instincts. Instead, remain calm and make yourself appear as large as possible, using your arms or coat. Do not turn your back on the animal or bend over. You can find more information on mountain lions on the CPW website.
The runner has been released from the hospital and is still recovering before deciding whether to speak publicly about what happened. The guy did get attacked by a literal lion, so a little rest is definitely deserved.