On Monday an unidentified man who ran on the West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins, Colorado, had a bad encounter with a juvenile puma, which ended with the injured runner and the strangled animal at death.
According to Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) confirmed that a male cougar (Puma concolor couguar, also known as a mountain lion, puma or catamount) weighing at least 80 pounds attacked the man and managed to inflict bite wounds on his face and wrist – before the tables turned and the man succeeded to suffocate it with bare hands. The runner claimed "serious, but not threatening injuries" in the very unfortunate incident, CPW wrote in a statement, while wildlife officials took the puma's corpse for an necroscopy.
According to the New York Times, a spokesperson for parks and wildlife said that other animals had cleaned up the puma corpse when they located it, even though officials confirmed Tuesday that he had actually died of suffocation (and that, fortunately, not rabid).
"The rider did everything he could to save his life," said CPW Northwest Region Director Mark Leslie. "In the case of a lion attack, you must do anything in your power to fight back, just like this gentleman did."
According to CNN, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources stated that the Hatetooth Mountain Open Space trails were closed on Tuesday due to the rangers' detection of "more mountain lions activities in the area" . They will review the situation on Friday, the CNN wrote.
Although the coguarios were hunted until near-extinction in the United States, the researchers believe that their Western populations and those of other top predators such as wolves and coyotes are beginning to bounce (although it is still a matter of contention) .
Scientists once categorized the regional cat populations as distinct subspecies, although this vision has diminished due to the 2000 genetic research which concluded that all are the same subspecies. According to National Geographic, the eastern variant has declined to the point of effective eradication for at least the last 100 years, although Western cougars have been spotted in the Midwest, and some males have been "found closer to the east coast".
There's a population on the east coast that still exists, even if it's not getting so hot. The American service of fish and wildlife has considered the panther of Florida as an endangered subspecies (Puma concolor coryi) since 1967, when the Department of the Interior decreed that it was nearing extinction and needed a protected state. Apart from taxonomic debates, one of the researchers who published the genetic study, Melanie Culver, told Tampa Bay Times in 2017 that it should continue to enjoy this status. Unfortunately it seems to be directed towards total extirpation regardless, in no small part due to collisions with vehicles.
Colorado wildlife officials have pointed out to the Times that mountain lions have caused only three deaths confirmed in the state since 1990 and less than 12 years in North America in over 100 years. However, the CPW website warns that interactions between animals and humans have increased in recent years, with factors such as the invasion of pumas, a measured increase in deer populations and a "supposed increase" in puma populations and people are simply more aware of their presence.
The CPW website advises humans to travel in groups within the cat's established ranges and never approach a cougar, as they usually just want to be left alone and "will try to avoid a fight ".
If the puma approaches, the website advises people to speak "calmly and firmly" as they slowly move away, as well as avoid running and trying to look bigger (like raising their arms or expanding a jacket), if possible. If it seems to behave aggressively, CPW also advises people to try to dissuade it by throwing objects "without crouching or turning their backs" and fighting with weapons, tools or other items available in case of an attack.
[The Coloradoan/New York Times]