Think your runs are intense? On Monday in Colorado, a trail runner successfully fended off an attack from a mountain lion while running on the West Ridge Trail of the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. According to a press release from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department, the runner heard a noise from behind and turned to investigate. That’s when a juvenile mountain lion attacked, biting the runner’s face and wrist. The runner fought and broke free, killing the lion in self-defense. The runner made their way to a hospital, where they are currently being treated for serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Ty Petersburg, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, noted the rarity of Colorado mountain lion attacks in a statement. “Mountain lion attacks are not common in Colorado and it is unfortunate that the lion’s hunting instincts were triggered by the runner,” said Petersburg. “This could have had a very different outcome.”

Since 1990, there have been only 16 Colorado mountain lion attacks and three fatalities, CPW officials note. Despite the rarity of these attacks, the CPW emphasizes hikers, campers, and visitors be alert when exploring parks. Below, the CPW offers tips for outdoor enthusiasts to follow if a mountain lion is encountered.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Mountain Lion Safety Tips:

  • 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!

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