Colorado runner who killed mountain lion with his bare hands in self defence says it was like a wrestling match
Speaking at a press conference, 31-year-old Travis Kauffman shared how his life flashed before his eyes and instinctively he went from flight mode to fight mode
The Colorado runner who fought and killed a mountain lion by wrestling and suffocating it to death has finally opened up about the near-death experience.
In a press conference held by Colorado Parks and Wildlife on February 14, 31-year-old Travis Kauffman shared how his life flashed before his eyes and he instinctively went into fight or flight mode when the juvenile animal crept up behind him when he had gone on a run on February 4.
LIVE || press conference featuring the trail runner who survived the Feb. 4 mountain lion attack. https://t.co/yxqX0gVdX3— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) February 14, 2019
The attack took place in the mountainous area of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Kauffman said he realized a mountain lion was sneaking up about 10 feet behind him when he heard "pine needles rustling."
"One of my worst fears was confirmed...I just had my heart sink into my stomach a little bit," said Kauffman, whose identity was not known till the press conference.
Kauffman, who was accompanied by his girlfriend Annie Bierbower at the presser, also spoke about the terrifying experience in an interview with state wildlife officials.
The experienced runner said that he had been heading out on a trail at the Horsetooth Mountain Park when the animal appeared and pounced on him. He said that when the mountain lion pinned him down, his "fear response turned into more of a fight response" and he started attacking the animal.
The lion reportedly jumped on Kauffman and locked its jaws on his wrists and then began clawing at his face and arms. Kauffman said: "It was going up towards my face so I threw up my hands to kind of block my face, at which point it grabbed onto my hand and wrist and from there it started to claw at my face and neck. And that’s when kind of my fear response turned into more of a fight response."
He suddenly got a burst of energy and started wrestling the juvenile cat to the ground, hit its head with a rock and tried to stab it in the neck with twigs. Kaufmann and the beast continued to fight each other and rolled to the south end of the trail he had been running on. He said: "From there it was just like a wrestling match."
Kauffman was finally able to pin down the animal's hind legs with his knee and then placed a foot onto the mountain lion's neck and suffocated it to death. He said on the radio show KUNC: "Because I'm a recent cat owner, I know that the back claws are pretty dangerous when it comes down to an attack. And I was pretty worried about its claws just sinking into my my stomach and groin area."
"I was able to shift my weight and get a foot on its neck. … I stepped on its neck with my right foot and just slowly after a few minutes I thought I would be getting close and then it would start thrashing again and I had a few more scratches that resulted from those thrashes at that point, and I’d say another couple minutes later it finally stopped moving. The fight lasted for 10 minutes.
Moments before meeting the national news media, Travis Kauffman and Annie Bierbouer embrace at our office.— CO Parks & Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) February 14, 2019
Our live stream of the press conference will begin at 1:15 p.m. MT @CPW_NE pic.twitter.com/s6pReZrMCa
Kaufmann was able to walk away from the terrifying experience with his life with bloody gashes on his face and arms. He also sustained multiple wounds that included lacerations on his nose and cheek which took 20 stitches to fix. Kauffman said that he was sad that he killed the juvenile but wasn't sure if it had actually died after the fight. He ran away after the cat seemed unresponsive because he was afraid other predators may have been lurking close by.
Speaking of the fight, he said: "I was on a crazy fear high." Kauffman then ran three miles just to be able to get out of the park. He found another runner and a park visitor on the way who both jogged with him to a trailhead. After reaching the spot, he was given a ride to a hospital close by and was treated for his injuries.
Wildlife officials subsequently released a statement saying that Kauffman had been lucky to get out of the attack alive. According to CBS, Mark Leslie, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife manager, said: "We all feel extremely lucky that this attack was made by a young mountain lion on a knowledgeable runner, otherwise, we may have been hosting a very different press conference. These animals are ambush predators, and are trained to take quick and lethal action whenever possible."
After the attack, the park was shut for some time but it was opened once more last week. Officials in Larimer County have reported an increased amount of mountain lion activity in the area and have also boosted the patrols on the trails the day after the attack.
Leslie said: "We have removed additional lions that we believe are siblings of the lion involved in last Monday’s attack."
The other lions, who are also juveniles, will be moved to a rehabilitation center and will be re-released into the wild at a later date. Officials have warned visitors to the park since it reopened that there is a chance they may encounter mountain lions.