A man with Arkansas roots detailed Thursday how he fended off a mountain lion that attacked him, killing the creature with his bare hands by choking it in a Colorado nature park earlier this month.
Travis Kauffman, a native of Mountain Home, said he defended himself against the mountain lion that attacked him while he was running along a wooded trail near his Fort Collins home on Feb 4.
At a news conference in Colorado, he spoke for the first time publicly about the encounter. Kauffman, 31, said that when the cat ran after him, "one of my worst fears was imagined."
"It's one of those things where it captures the imagination because it's a modern-day 'man versus nature' scenario," he said. "There's still ... an aura of mystique around that."
According to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Kauffman has lived in the Fort Collins area for about five years and works in environmental consulting. Members of Kauffman's family still live in Mountain Home, though they could not be reached for comment or declined to comment Thursday.
The release said Kauffman has previously bicycled on the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space route, and Feb. 4 was his first time on that route on foot.
After the attack, Kauffman required more than 20 stitches in his face and wrist, and suffered bruises and puncture wounds in his neck, according to the release.
He detailed Thursday the harrowing encounter with the cat, saying he was running along the trail when he heard the mountain lion approaching from behind. He said he didn't hear any growling or other cat noises.
Kaufmann said he made eye contact with the animal and tried to scare it off by yelling and waving his hands, but it lunged at him. He said the cat bit him in the face and latched on to his wrist, scratching Kaufmann's head and body.
He described the frenetic wrestle with the animal as driven by "pure adrenaline." He stabbed the cat with sticks, which broke, and bashed it with a rock.
"I was kind of screaming the whole time trying to do my barbarian yell," he said.
Kaufmann said he was eventually able to get on the mountain lion's back and put his foot on its neck, suffocating it.
He said his biggest fear during the fight was another cat coming along.
A spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Thursday that mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, and the agency has noted only about 20 such attacks since 1990.
Kauffman said he ran 3 miles after killing the mountain lion, scared that he would encounter another one.
Afterward, several people helped him, and a woman gave him a ride to a hospital.
Kauffman said his recovery was going well.
A necropsy on the mountain lion showed that the animal was between 35 and 40 pounds and was likely only 4 or 5 months old, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife release. The cat had limited fat reserves, indicating that it may have been hungry but wasn't starving, the report said.
There have been more than 20 reported lion attacks in Colorado since 1991, three of which were fatal, according to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife release. A 2014 mountain lion population study indicated that between 4,500 and 5,500 mountain lions likely live in the state.
Kauffman said he plans to go back to the same running trail when he returns from a vacation abroad.
"I feel like I should buy a bunch of lottery tickets," he said with a laugh.
Information for this article was contributed by Clara Turnage of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 02/15/2019
Print Headline: Arkansas native chokes mountain lion, survives attack