Travis Kauffman was able to fight off a mountain lion after the animal attacked him on a trail near Fort Collins.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fort Collins Coloradoan
Travis Kauffman was 6 miles into an uphill run through ice-covered trails west of Fort Collins when he heard a rustling behind him.
Then the mountain lion lunged at him.
In the frantic minutes that followed, Kauffman screamed like a “barbarian,” struck the animal with anything he could reach and finally twisted his 150-pound frame atop the lion and choked it to death with his foot.
As the lion’s mouth lost its grip of his right wrist, Kauffman, 31, prepared to run back down to civilization, where his tale of survival has captivated an international audience since the Feb. 4 attack.
Kauffman, 31, shared his experience at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Fort Collins.
He had planned to do a 12- to 15-mile run on Feb. 4, starting in Lory State Park and making his way to Horsetooth Rock, Kauffman explained in a pre-recorded video shown during the news conference.
Icy conditions caused him to modify his route. That’s when he heard pine needles rustle behind him and he turned his head.
He saw the mountain lion, and “one of my worst fears was confirmed,” the 5-foot-10, 150-pound Kauffman said.
He threw his hands up and started yelling. The animal was 10 feet away but kept approaching. As it got closer to Kauffman, it lunged at him. Kauffman threw up his arms and the lion latched onto his wrist, clawing on his face and legs.
“I was just kind of screaming the whole time, doing my barbarian yell,” Kauffman said.
He tried to throw the animal off of him, but from there, it was a thrashing, wrestling match, he said.
As a new cat owner, Kauffman said he knew he couldn’t let the animal’s hind legs get underneath him, because his “guts” and groin would be injured. So he used his knee to pin down the cat’s back legs.
He tried to stab it with some nearby sticks, but they were rotten and kept breaking.
He picked up a rock and was able to hit it in the back a few times, but that was not effective.
Soon he was able to move his right leg close to his wrist, which was in the grip of the lion’s teeth, and stepped on its neck until he suffocated it.
He ran down the trail on a “fear high,” suddenly noticing some possible signs of mountain lions and worrying about more in the area.
He ran three miles down the trail and along the way came across another trail runner, Spencer, who was on his way up the trail. They jogged down together and ran into a couple, Rachel and Noah, near a parking lot, and they had a cell phone.
One of the three helpers then drove him to the hospital.
At the hospital, Kauffman received 25 stitches on his face and three on his wrist, where the lion had latched on.
“My face was kind of a bloody mess when I first got there,” he said.
He had several puncture wounds from the animal’s teeth and claws.
“About a week out, and I feel great,” Kauffman said during the video.
“It’s a modern day man vs. nature scenario.”
12:38 p.m.: The identity of the Fort Collins man who killed a mountain lion while running near Horsetooth Mountain last week has been released by Colorado Parks and Wildlife prior to a press conference Thursday.
Travis Kauffman, 31, of Fort Collins received more than 20 facial stitches but suffered no broken bones or tendon damage from a mountain lion attack on Feb. 4, according to CPW.
Kauffman is expected to speak publicly for the first time during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
According to CPW, Kauffman enjoys many forms of outdoor recreation, including mountain biking, skiing and trail running. He had never run the route he was on when attacked last week, but he had biked it previously.
Kauffman is from Mountain Home, Arkansas but has lived in Fort Collins for five years, according to CPW. He currently lives with his girlfriend, Annie Bierbouer.
Original: The Colorado runner who killed a mountain lion by suffocating it after the animal attacked him on a Fort Collins trail last week is set to speak publicly for the first time Thursday afternoon.
The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was running alone on a trail near Horsetooth Mountain Park on Feb. 4 when he was attacked from behind, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
He was treated for puncture wounds and lacerations and was released from the hospital the day after the attack. While defending himself, he told investigators that he killed the lion by suffocating it. The account was confirmed by investigators after examining the lion.
Wildlife officers found the mountain lion dead near where the incident took place.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said the mountain lion was less than a year old and weighed less than 100 pounds, but determining its exact weight was difficult as it had already been fed on by other animals when it was found.
Initial testing indicated the animal did not have rabies, but other diseases had not yet been ruled out as of last week.
Horsetooth Mountain Open Space reopened to the public Wednesday, after officials found and captured two other juvenile mountain lions that they believe are the siblings of the lion involved in the attack.
Thursday’s news conference is open only to members of the media. The Coloradoan will stream the news conference and provide live updates in this story Thursday afternoon.
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