Mountain lion killed after attacking hunter near Kremmling

Eli Pace
Sky-Hi News
If you encounter a mountain lion, make noise, make yourself appear larger and don’t approach it. If a lion behaves aggressively, throw objects at it and fight back if it attacks.

A man attacked by a mountain lion Saturday night near Kremmling did everything right when he fought back and stabbed the animal with a pocketknife, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Friday.

The man was reportedly attacked around 9 p.m. while scouting out places to hunt elk around the Big Horn Park subdivision northeast of Kremmling. Authorities and their hounds tracked down the mountain lion at about 7 a.m. the next morning and killed it.

A necropsy revealed the mountain lion had only grass in his stomach, indicating the animal was hungry, said Mike Porras, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Relaying details of the incident, Porras said the hunter saw the mountain lion before it attacked him. Upon spotting the animal, the hunter walked backwards slowly for about 200 yards until he tripped and fell and the mountain lion pounced.

The cat swiped at the hunter’s legs and caused minor injuries. Meanwhile, the hunter had a pocketknife with him and fought back by stabbing the mountain lion in the face, Porras said.

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The following morning, authorities tracked the mountain lion, found it about 100 yards from where the attack occurred and killed the animal.

Porras said the mountain lion acted especially aggressive when authorities found it and even fought with the hounds that tracked him instead of running away, which is the typical reaction.

While the necropsy revealed the cat was likely hungry, it also showed the mountain lion, a young adult male, was in a good, healthy condition, Porras said.

With such a robust population of mountain lions in Colorado and so many people venturing into the backcountry, Porras hopes people will get educated about how to handle such encounters before going out.

Like the hunter, Porras said, someone should never turn around and run from a mountain lion. It’s much better to stay facing the animal and slowly back away, he explained.

When the cat pounced, the hunter fought back with whatever he had, in this case a pocketknife, and that was exactly what he should have done, Porras continued.

“So absolutely, he did everything right,” Porras said, adding that there was a mountain lion sighting in the subdivision about a week before the attack.

What to do if you encounter a mountain lion

Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet and elusive. Although attacks are rare, they are possible. To avoid such encounters, the National Parks Service offers these tips:
• Do not hike alone. Hike in groups with adults supervising children.
• Keep children close and within your sight at all times.

If you see a mountain lion:
• Stay calm and hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright.
• Never approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens.
• Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal.

If the mountain lion moves acts aggressively:
• Try to appear intimidating or larger than you are by raising your arms and opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
• If looking bigger doesn’t scare the mountain lion off, start throwing stones, branches or whatever you can reach in its direction without crouching or turning your back.
• If the mountain lion continues to move in your direction, start throwing things at it.
• If the mountain lion attacks you, fight back.

Also, report all mountain lion sightings to wildlife officials immediately.

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