After Being Attacked, Colorado Trail Runner Suffocates Mountain Lion in Self Defense

On Monday, a trail runner using the West RidgeTrail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Colorado was able to defend himself while being attacked by a juvenile mountain lion, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

The victim of the attack described hearing something behind him, and he turned around to see what it was. That’s when the juvenile mountain lion lunged at him, biting his face and wrist.

The unidentified victim fought back in self defense and ended up killing the mountain lion.

As reported by the Denver Post, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials Tweeted Tuesday morning: “After additional investigation, including examination of the lion, we have confirmed the victim’s account that he was able to suffocate the animal while defending himself from attack.”

The victim then got himself to a local hospital – sustaining serious, but not life-threatening injuries as a result of the attack.

Not the mountain lion involved in the encounter. Photo: Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

The mountain lion’s body was collected and taken to the Colorado Parks Wildlife animal health lab for a necropsy, and according to USA Today, officials confirmed that it died from suffocation.

“Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it’s unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” Ty Petersburg, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a press release.

According to the press release, Mountain lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than 20 fatalities in North America in more than 100 years. Since 1990, Colorado has had 16 injuries as a result of mountain lion attacks, and three fatalities. Lion populations are doing very well in Colorado, but they are elusive animals and tend to avoid humans.

Most people will never see a lion in the wild, but they are certainly out there. If you live, work, or play in mountain lion country, it is important to always stay alert.

Here’s what Colorado Parks and Wildlife say to do if you encounter a mountain lion:

– 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!

Respecting wildlife includes being informed on how to avoid or manage wildlife encounters. To learn more about living with wildlife in Colorado, visit

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