Travis Kauffman says he's sad that a mountain lion had to die—but since the animal had leaped at him and latched onto his wrist with its jaws, he had little choice but to fight back. At a news conference Thursday, the 31-year-old, who needed 28 stitches, recounted his life-or-death struggle with the juvenile mountain lion who attacked him while running on a trail near Fort Collins, Colo., earlier this month, KDVR reports. He said that after the cougar began clawing at his face and neck, it turned into a "wrestling match." Kauffman told reporters that he tried using his free hand to hit the animal with a rock and stab it with sticks but nothing worked until he was able to shift his weight and suffocate it by putting his foot on its neck.
After a couple of minutes, he said "it finally stopped moving and then the jaws opened and I was able to kind of scramble back up the hill and get the heck out of Dodge." Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, who describe Kauffman as "an amazing young man," say a necropsy on the 35- to 40-pound lion confirmed his account, the AP reports. Officials say other young lions, believed to be siblings of the one that ambushed Kauffman, have been removed from the area but will be returned to the wild after rehabilitation, CBS reports. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Kauffman joked that reporters must have been disappointed to find that he is no Chuck Norris. "I will never be able to live up to the reputation," he said. "The story is bigger than my puny form." (A cougar killed a hiker in Oregon last fall.)