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Mountain lion attacks Colorado hunter armed with just a pocket knife, officials say

What to do if you meet a mountain lion

​​Mountain lions are generally calm, quiet, and elusive. People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.
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​​Mountain lions are generally calm, quiet, and elusive. People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.

A Colorado man was scouting spots to hunt elk earlier this month when he became prey himself, according to state wildlife officials.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said the scouting hunter reported that a mountain lion attacked him on Aug. 10 around 9 p.m. near Kremmling, CBS Denver reported. The man said he spotted the large cat and retreated backwards but tripped — at which point the cat sprung on the man and scratched his legs, according to the TV station.

That’s when Richard Marriott of Evergreen said he used the only weapon he had on him — a pocket knife — to fight back against the wild animal, Sky-Hi News reports. Marriott said he slashed the mountain lion, yelled at it and tossed rocks until he scared it off, according to the publication.

Wildlife officials said the pocket knife was “very blunt,” KUSA reports.

Mariott said the attack happened as he was finishing up his scouting and heading back in the moonlight around nightfall, wearing a headlamp and following a trail roughly a quarter-mile from his car, according to Sky-Hi News. He said he first thought the big cat was a deer, but then realized it was a mountain lion following him, the publication reported.

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Mariott said he wishes he’d brought his pistol along on his scouting expedition, as he usually does for trips into the woods, according to Sky-Hi News.

“I think I would have been able to give it a warning shot and hopefully it would have ran off,” he said, according to Sky-Hi News. “That’s what I kind of take from all of this. When I go into the field now, I need to make sure I have my sidearm.”

He survived the scary encounter with only minor leg scratches, KUSA reports.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Mike Porras said officers tracked down, shot and killed the animal the next day, adding that the mountain lion was aggressive and didn’t run away from the officers, KUSA reports.

A necropsy found that the young male big cat was in good condition, though it was likely hungry with only grass in its stomach, according to CBS Denver.

Porras said the hunter’s response was perfect, CBS Denver reported: He walked backward slowly, and didn’t turn his back and run.

Mountain lion attacks on people “are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years,” according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which describes the wild animals as “generally calm, quiet, and elusive.”

Colorado wildlife officials advised people to protect themselves from potential mountain lion attacks by traveling in groups through the animals’ territory, staying calm and talking firmly with a mountain lion, facing the animal and standing upright, raising your arms to look larger and throwing stones if the animal behaves aggressively.

“What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion,” officials said, adding that people should “fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully.”

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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