WATCH: Runner who killed mountain lion during attack on Colorado trail talks about ordeal for first time

Victim of mountain lion attack. Photo courtesy: CPW
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LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - A Colorado man was attacked on a run and forced to kill a mountain lion with his bare hands to save his life.

Thursday, 31-year-old Travis Kauffman opened up about his terrifying ordeal. Watch the video below:


Kauffman fought for his life after he was attacked by the mountain lion on a trail in Larimer County on Feb. 4.

The man said he was running on the West Ridge Trail in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space west of Fort Collins when he heard a noise behind him. As he turned around to see what it was, a mountain lion lunged at him. The man tried to fight the animal off as it bit him in the face and wrists. During the struggle, he got the upper hand and suffocated the mountain lion. Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed his account the next day following a necropsy on the animal.

The runner then left the park and went to the hospital. In addition to injuries to his face and wrists, he also had puncture wounds to his arms, legs and back. On Thursday officials released more information on his injuries. Kauffman had more than 20 stitches on his face and wrist. He had no broken bones or tendon damage. He had puncture wounds to his neck and legs.

The mountain lion was described as a "juvenile" weighing about 80 pounds.

“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.

Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare in Colorado, with just 16 injuries and three fatalities since 1990. In North America, there have been fewer than 20 fatalities in the last century.

“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.”

It's also uncommon to see a mountain lion in the wild, as they do not generally like to make their presence known to humans.

"Human encounters with mountain lions are rare and the risk of an attack is infinitely small. ... If lions had any natural urge to hunt people, there would be attacks every single day. Instead, they avoid us." - Mountain Lion Foundation

There are no exact numbers on mountain lion sightings in Colorado Springs, but there have been some confirmed at west side parks in the last several years, including Cheyenne Mountain State Park and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. In at least one of those sightings, the mountain lion approached a runner, which experts say is not typical. But in the case that you do encounter a mountain lion, wildlife experts say there are things you can do to keep yourself safe.

What to do if you encounter a mountain lion, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

- Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

- Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly and firmly to it. Move slowly and never turn your back on it.

- Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.

- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you're wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run.

- If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion.

- Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. We recommend targeting the eyes and nose as these are sensitive areas. Remain standing or try to get back up!

- If you live, work, or play in mountain lion country, it is important to be alert!

Reported deadly mountain lion attacks on humans from 11990 to the present according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Fatal lion attacks:
January 1991: (GMU 39, Clear Creek Co.) Fatality An 18-year-old male was killed by a lion, while jogging, just a few hundred yards from his high school in Idaho Springs. The lion dragged the 130-pound boy 100 yards downhill before killing him, evidenced by the uprooted vegetation along the way. The lion was found feeding on his body three days later.

July 17, 1997: (GMU 18, Grand Co.) Fatality A 10-year-old Lakewood boy was killed by an adult female cougar about 4:30 p.m. during a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. He had raced ahead of his family on a well-traveled trail and was out of their sight. His family arrived to see his feet and legs extending onto the trail from adjacent brush. The cougar (an 88-pound pregnant female) attempted to drag him away before fleeing. The boy died from choking on his own vomit. The lion retreated when the parents arrived, but was killed soon afterward when it tried to attack a National Park Service officer who was guarding the boy’s body.

October 2, 1999: (GMU 19, Larimer Co.) (Suspected lion attack but not confirmed). Fatality A 3-year-old boy was last seen running between two groups of hikers on the Big South Trail in the Comanche Peak Wilderness. The boy had been running ahead of one of the groups so he could hide behind boulders or trees and jump out to say "boo". A massive search of the area was initiated that included more than 60 people and search dogs over several days. At the time only one set of possible tracks (presumed to be bear tracks) were discovered. Tracking dogs also detected bear scent for a short time within the search area. The boy's family reported that they believed a mountain lion might have killed the boy. In June 2003 hikers found some clothes approximately 550 feet from the Big South Trail. The boy's family has identified the pants, pair of shoes and pullover jacket found by the hikers as the boy's clothing. Further investigation and DNA analysis were inconclusive.