Travis Kauffman earned his place in the news last month when he killed a mountain lion with his bare hands as he was jogging in Horseshoe Mountain Park.
Kauffman, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs about 150 pounds, said at a press conference conducted by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife that he heard pine needles rustling on the trail behind him.
More on today's mountain lion attack at Horsetooth Reservoir Open Space: the trail runner is recovering from his injuries, and the lion was killed as the victim defended himself on the trail. A necropsy will be performed by @COParksWildlife. More details: https://t.co/RVX0pfMg62
— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) February 5, 2019
“I stopped and turned,” Kauffman told KUNC radio, before realizing the sound had come from a mountain lion. The cat apparently lunged and clamped its teeth on Kauffman’s wrist before clawing at his face and neck.
As he struggled with the animal, he was able to pin the mountain lion’s legs and grab his hands around the cat’s throat.
“I got my right foot onto its neck,” he said, adding he let out a “barbarian yell” during the struggle. “And then I was able to get some weight onto its windpipe and that’s what eventually suffocated it.”
The Denver Post reports that wildlife officials recovered the animal’s corpse after the incident, although its body had been cannibalized by other mountain lions.
They originally guessed the mountain lion weighed about 80 pounds and was about a year old. But a final necropsy of the animal indicates it was much younger and smaller.
The Coloradoan reports that Colorado Parks and Wildlife veterinarians report the animal was a “kitten” that weighed about 24 pounds and may have been only three or four months old. They also theorize the young mountain lion could have been orphaned or starving or both, leading to the attack.
It also explains why the incident even occurred. Human-mountain lion interactions are extremely rare. The Mountain Lion Foundation reports that humans are more likely to be hit by lightning or drown in their bathtub than be attacked by a mountain lion.
It remains a fascinating story and one that all hikers and joggers should remember before any encounters in the wild with wild animals.