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Runner Travis Kauffman who fought back mountain lion with his bare hands describes ordeal

A runner who survived an attack by a mountain lion has said he wrestled the animal to the ground and jammed his foot onto its neck to suffocate it.

Travis Kauffman says the lion "locked its jaws on his wrist" and was "clawing his face and arms" during the attack in Colorado on February 4.

The ordeal left him with 28 stitches and a reputation for toughness and bravery that overshadows his wiry frame.

The 31-year-old said he was "pretty bummed out to see a mountain lion chasing after me."

Mr Kauffman said he was running a trail in the mountains west of Fort Collins when he heard pine needles rustle behind him.

Travis Kauffman describes how he fought off the animal. Credit: AP

Mr Kauffman said the cat lunged and then he raised his hands while screaming "to try and deter the animal".

The runner added that the animal locked its teeth onto his wrist and they tumbled off the side of the trail.

He said fear gave way to the fighting instinct as he grabbed a stone and "bashed the animal at the back of the head twice" before "shifting his weight to get a foot on his neck".

After killing the animal, Mr Kauffman said he jogged back down the trail and met other runners who got him to a hospital.

"I will never be able to live up to the reputation," said the trail runner, who is 5ft 10in and weighs about 11 stone.

The 31-year-old had 28 stitches. Credit: Colorado Parks Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers retrieved the dead cat. They said their investigations confirmed Mr Kauffman’s account.

"Travis is a pretty amazing young man," said Ty Petersburg, a wildlife manager for the agency.

Mr Kauffman was the 22nd person attacked by a mountain lion in Colorado since 1990, Parks and Wildlife said.

Mr Petersburg said officers set up cameras and traps in the area for several days after the attack.

They saw no large mountain lions but captured two young ones in good health. He said both were in a rehabilitation centre, and the agency hoped to release them back into the wild.

Mr Kauffman, an environmental consultant, described himself as an avid runner, cyclist and skier who has a pet cat at home. He said he did not plan to retreat from the outdoors.

"I will go run those trails again," he said, but added: "I will go with a buddy there."