There is an extraordinary story in the online newspapers this morning about a trail runner killing a mountain lion with his bare hands. In other words he strangled the cat. It is the first time that I have heard of a person strangling a mountain lion. Although, this was a juvenile weighing about 80 pounds, it is thought.
My initial impression is that it brings to mind the possibility that when a person encounters a mountain lion they can and should follow the advice of the park rangers and do their best to see off the animal by making themselves larger and making a lot of noise. People confronted with a mountain lion should not turn and run as this triggers the hunting instinct in the cat but should back away slowly. They should also recognise the signs of a pending attack. The cat does this by positioning himself low to the ground with his tail twitching back and forth. I’m thinking of both the human and the animal in this encounter. Both lives can be preserved. It’s extremely rare to be killed by a mountain lion and I want to see less mountain lions shot and killed.
In Colorado, mountain lion attacks are extremely rare but there have been three fatal attacks in that state since 1991. Two of them concerned children, one three years of age and the other 10 years of age. My distinct impression is that it is children who are most vulnerable to mountain lion attacks. This then brings to mind the necessity of parents to be at least reasonably vigilant when accompanying children on trails in the wilderness.
No doubt the runner who strangled a mountain lion was not a child and was therefore able to defend himself. We don’t know the person’s identity. He was running along the park’s West Ridge Trail when he was attacked from behind. His injuries are not life-threatening. We are told that he was bitten on his face and wrist. He fought back and broke free then strangled the cat.
It’s probable that this individual cougar, being a juvenile and therefore inexperienced, had stupidly attacked a human being. Unless an adult mountain lion has become habituated to humans, they would normally steer clear of people.
Another runner, Nick Clark, who has run in the same park where the man was attacked said that he had run in that park “a couple thousand times” without seeing a mountain lion. He says that he never thinks about being attacked by a mountain lion and is more scared of rattlesnakes.
This species of wild cat is reclusive and avoids people. When I think of three big wild cat species which are the least aggressive, if you like, of the wild cats I think of the mountain lion, the snow leopard and the cheetah.
We should be reluctant to kill them and the sport hunting of these magnificent animals should be stopped entirely in all the states of the US. It seems wholly inappropriate in this day and age to hunt mountain lions with dogs as is what happens.
Source: online newspapers and media inc. eu.coloradoan.com.
The technical name for this cat is the puma. They are often smaller than people think.