A runner who survived an attack by a mountain lion has described how he wrestled the young animal to the ground and jammed his foot onto its neck to suffocate it.
Travis Kauffman says the lion locked its jaws on his wrist and was clawing his face and arms during the attack in Colorado on 4 February.
The ordeal left him with 28 stitches... and a reputation for bravery.
“I will never be able to live up to the reputation,” said the 31-year-old trail runner, who is 5ft 10in and weighs about 11 stone. “The story is bigger than my puny form.”
Kauffman said he was running a trail in the mountains west of Fort Collins when he heard pine needles rustle behind him.
He turned to see the mountain lion about 10 feet away.
“One of my worst fears was confirmed,” he said.
The cat lunged, and Kauffman raised his hands and screamed. The animal locked its teeth onto his wrist and they tumbled off the side of the trail.
A wave of fear rolled over him, he said, and he worried that the animal’s full-grown mother would join the attack to defend her offspring. But no other cat appeared.
Fear then gave way to the fighting instinct, he said.
After killing the animal, Kauffman jogged back down the trail, where he met other runners who got him to a hospital.
“I was just thankful that he had his eyes and his fingers and all his parts, and it didn’t look as bad as I maybe would have thought that it could,” said his girlfriend, Annie Bierbower.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers retrieved the dead cat. They said their investigations confirmed Kauffman’s account.