FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The man who suffocated a mountain lion after being attacked while running in Larimer County was identified Thursday and spoke for the first time since the incident.
Travis Kauffman, 31, of Fort Collins was attacked by the juvenile mountain lion at Horsetooth Mountain Park on Feb. 4 while on a 12-mile trail run.
“Show of hands: Who all is disappointed that I’m not, in fact, Chuck Norris,” Kauffman said at the start of the hourlong news conference.
“I will never be able to live up to the reputation,” said Kauffman, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs about 150 pounds. “The story is bigger than my puny form.”
Kauffman said he heard a noise behind him, turned and saw the mountain lion 10 feet away. Despite making loud noises, the mountain lion lunged at him.
“I was grabbing around for sticks,” Kauffman said. “I only had my left hand free. My right hand was still locked in its jaws.
“I tried to get at its neck to see if I could stab it in the neck to get him to release. It wasn’t working. The sticks were breaking. So then I picked up a rock I had seen near us. It was heavy and hard to wield. I tried to give him a few bashes to the back of the head.”
Kauffman and the mountain lion fell to the ground.
The mountain lion locked its jaws onto Kauffman’s wrist and was clawing his face and arms at the park in the foothills west of Fort Collins.
“I knew with two pretty good blows to the back of the head (and) it didn’t release, that I was probably going to have to do something a little more drastic,” he said. “I was able to kind of shift my weight and get a foot on its neck” until it died.
“It was pure adrenaline,” Kauffman said.
A bloodied Kauffman then ran about three miles down the trail where he met other runners who got him to a hospital.
Kauffman had to get more than 20 facial and wrist stitches. He did not suffer any broken bones or tendon damage, but he has continued swelling that creates limited motion.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers retrieved the mountain lion. They said their investigation and a necropsy confirmed Kauffman’s account.
Kauffman said the ordeal will not stop him from backcountry trail running in the future. He said he might bring a knife next time and run with a friend.
He also said he didn’t want to kill the animal, but he had to defend himself.