"Fight back" and "educate yourself on" mountain lions after vicious Colorado battle

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - There was a frightening but intriguing encounter when a mountain lion and a trail runner came face to face at Colorado Horsetooth Mountain Park Monday afternoon.

Reports state when the mountain lion bit the man's face and wrist, he somehow got around the mountain lion and suffocated it.

"If it means killing a lion then that's better than you being harmed or worse," said John Kanta, regional supervisor for western South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks.

Attacks like this are highly unlikely, according to Kanta.

"Just having an encounter with a mountain lion or seeing one is extremely rare and then being attacked even more rare," Kanta explained.

However, he believes people in the Black Hills should still have their guards up.

'If you are unfortunate and have an encounter with a mountain lion, fight back," he stated.

Kanta says what this encounter should do for people is not make them fear enjoying the outdoors but rather motivate them to educate themselves on the species.

"The best defense you have or the best tool to avoid an encounter with a mountain lion is to know what mountain lions look like, know what kind of signs they leave so that you can identify if a mountain lion is around and then the appropriate way to respond to that," Kanta said.

Game, Fish & Parks says their most recent population estimate of mountain lions in western South Dakota is upwards of 240.