Photo: Moose Henderson

Last Sunday a man killed a mountain lion by choking it after being attacked while running on a northern Colorado trail. AP reported that the man (who is still unidentified) was running alone at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins on Monday when he heard something behind him on the trail and was attacked as he turned back to investigate, according to an account from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The agency said the young lion — its hunting instincts apparently triggered by the movement — lunged at the runner, biting his face and wrist, but the man was able to break free and kill the lion. The man was hospitalized with serious injuries and was expected to make a full recovery.

Why This Matters: While the victim has not made a public statement it’s important that the mountain lion does not become the villain in this story. It’s extremely rare to see a mountain lion in the wild (they’re usually pretty solitary creatures) but when we go into their habitat we’re the ones who must take precautions and know what to do should a run-in occur. This man killed the mountain lion out of necessity but this doesn’t mean that we should make it a point to fear and justify killing mountain lions, much like has happened to sharks (remember the only “mindless killers” in the animal kingdom are humans!). In fact, habitat loss as a result of human development has pushed mountain lions closer to humans and has increased the likelihood of run-ins. We’re glad this hiker is alive and we wish him a very speedy recovery!

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