updated 7/16/2009 9:29:12 PM ET 2009-07-17T01:29:12

Wielding his chain saw as a weapon, a former U.S. Marine says he fought off a starving mountain lion that attacked him while he was camping with his wife and two toddlers in northwestern Wyoming.

Dustin Britton, a 32-year-old mechanic and ex-Marine, said he was alone cutting firewood about 100 feet from his campsite in the Shoshone National Forest when he saw the lion staring at him from some bushes.

Britton revved his 18-inch chain saw and tried to back away. But the 100-pound lion followed.

As the animal pounced, Britton raised his saw and met it head-on — a collision he said felt like a grown man running right into him.

"It batted me three or four times with its front paws and as quick as I hit it with that saw it just turned away," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Britton later discovered he'd inflicted a gash on the lion's shoulder. He said he was surprised the damage wasn't worse.

"You would think if you hit an animal with a chain saw it would dig right in. I might as well have hit it with a hockey stick," he said.

The wounded animal retreated, leaving Britton with a only small puncture wound on his forearm.

The attack occurred Sunday evening. Wildlife agents shot and killed the lion Monday after it attacked a dog brought in to track the animal.

Authorities say the lion was in poor physical condition and appeared to be starving. The lion was 4 to 5 years old.

Mountain lions are considered reclusive by nature and officials said the circumstances of the attack were highly unusual. Wyoming officials have documented only eight cases of mountain lions acting aggressively toward humans over the last decade.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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