Getting in touch with nature can be one of the more appealing aspects of outdoor exercise. Though, a recent close encounter of the wild kind ended up turning deadly when a cougar attacked a runner on a Colorado mountain.
On Monday afternoon, a trail runner was making his way through the West Ridge Trail on the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, when he was attacked and bitten by a mountain lion. The victim was “attacked from behind,” according to a report.
A struggle ensued in which the runner — who did not have a weapon — killed the lion by suffocating it.
According to the Denver Post:
He was able to fight off the big cat, killing it in the process. The man hiked to safety and was able to get to a local hospital on his own, officials said. On Monday evening the victim was being treated for serious injuries including facial bite wounds and lacerations to his arms, legs and back. The man, who was not identified, is expected to recover.
Wildlife officials described the cat as a “juvenile.” The man killed the lion in ‘self-defense.’
Ty Petersburg, Area Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, seems to think the runner “triggered” the lion attack by…running.
“Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it is unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” Petersburg explained. “This could have had a very different outcome.”
It’s also entirely possible that the lion attacked the runner because it’s a lion. It’s also possible that the victim would have been attacked whether he was running, walking, or sitting on the trail.
Though rare, puma attacks do occur. In 2016, a mountain lion attacked a 5-year-old boy in Aspen, Colorado. Deadly lion attacks have also taken place in Larimer County, where Monday’s attack occurred.
“In October of 1999, 3-year-old Jaryd Atadero was killed on the Big South Trail in the upper Poudre Canyon west of Fort Collins. In July of 1997, 10-year-old Mark Miedema was killed by a mountain lion in Rocky Mountain National Park,” USA Today reports.
However, regardless of its motivation, this particular lion seems to have picked the wrong “victim.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn