SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A Colorado trail runner saved his own life Monday when he fought a cougar and suffocated it to death west of Fort Collins.
Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare, so a man killing one with his bare hands has gotten a lot of attention.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that happening before, so it’s very unusual,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Mark Hadley told ABC4.
Hadley says Utah’s cougar population is thriving but they generally avoid people.
Although they do follow the deer population into lower areas in the winter, you’re most likely to encounter one while trail running or hiking.
Hadley says if you ever find yourself face to face with a cougar on the trail the idea is to make yourself look as big and as intimidating as possible by raising your arms over your head and holding your jacket open. You should speak to the animal in a loud firm voice and slowly back away.
Whatever you do DON’T turn and run as this could trigger the cougar’s predator response to chase you down. If that happens then it’s time to fight.
“If you are under attack by a cougar you do want to fight back,” Hadley said. “At that point often the cougar will feel like it’s not worth continuing the attack because you’re fighting back and defending yourself.”
Fewer than 20 people have been killed by cougars in North America in the last hundred years but just last May one fatally attacked a 32-year-old man near North Bend, Washington.