FORT COLLINS, Colo. (NBC NEWS) – A trail runner fought off and killed a mountain lion in self-defense in northern Colorado on Feb. 4, state officials said.
Ten days following the incident, the runner is speaking publically for the first time. He has been identified as Travis Kauffman, originally from Mountain Home, Arkansas. A press conference was held on Valentine’s Day at Fort Collins, Colo. where he recounted the attack.
Officials with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife and state law enforcement attended the press conference.
Kauffman said he was unarmed and had to use his hands and feet, as well as surrounding objects, to beat and choke the cat to death.
The attack happened on the West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins on Monday, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency said.
Kauffman was able to make his way down the mountain and came across other runners who were able to help him get to a nearby hospital, where he was being treated for serious but non-life-threatening puncture wounds to his arms, legs, and back.
“He was really creative,” said Ty Petersburg, area wildlife manager for the wildlife agency. “He used his hands, feet — things that were around him — and really it was just a fight for survival.”
Authorities described the animal only as a mountain lion that was less than a year old, saying they couldn’t determine its weight or precise age because other animals had started to eat it by the time they found its body near some of the man’s possessions.
The cat tested negative for rabies, “which is very welcome news,” the wildlife agency said.
Petersburg said Kauffman followed the state guidelines when the cat confronted him: He put his hands in the air, made a lot of noise and stood his ground.
But “probably what happened here is that the lion had an instinct triggered,” Petersburg told KUSA. “It wasn’t so much tracking a human or keying in on a human. It just had an instinct triggered like it would if you were to roll a ball of yarn across the ground for a cat.”