Bobcat Attack

bobcat attack

A bobcat attack on a person, I would assume, is very rare for the simple reason that we are not naturally prey to a bobcat. How can we be? But the bobcat is pretty courageous and has been known to attack animals much larger than itself. Over much of its range it relies on rabbits and hares (snowshoe hares) for prey. The majority of prey weighs less than 2 kilograms. Other prey include:

  • deer (north-eastern USA). These are much larger (see chart below of the weights of a sample of deer attacked). The bobcat kills larger prey by a series of quick bites to the throat, neck or base of the skull.
  • mountain beavers
  • birds
  • gophers
  • cotton rats
  • wood rats….

..to name some examples. However, there is evidence that a bobcat can, on its own, kill prey that weighs ten times its own weight. The largest adult male bobcat weighed about 27 kilograms (59 pounds src: Sunquists). In the extreme and theoretically, ten times that weight would make 590 pounds so a person, particularly a smallish women (say 110 pounds in weight) would on the face of it be acceptable prey under the right circumstances.

And the right circumstances seems to have occurred in the first example of a bobcat attack on a person. It happened on 17th December 2007 in Furnace Creek Inn, Death Valley:

Red Pin marks Death Valley, USA

Furnace Creek Inn Death Valley

Furnace Creek Inn, Death Valley – photo by wehardy

It seems that, in this first example, a group of people were sitting near a fire minding their own business after a swim (in the Furnace Inn swimming pool I presume). A 64 year old women was amongst them. She was attacked in an unprovoked manner and she had not been feeding the bobcat. She was scratched and bitten and given a rabies jab. But the story is that a European women who had been working in the kitchen had been feeding bobcats thereby habituating them to humans and facilitating the bobcat attack (source: nationalparkstraveler.com). This underlying reason for this bobcat attack would then be human behaviour. I think that it is fair to say that people, in the long term, have the biggest impact on the behaviour of wild cats.

In the second example, a man of 62 years of age killed a bobcat that attacked him. He was simply pulling his trashcans back to his house – nothing provocative. The attack took place in Wesley Chapel, Florida. What provoked this attack was the fact that the bobcat had rabies. He managed to kill the cat by strangulation (source: foxnews.com). If I was being a bit tough on the human race I could argue that the underlying cause of this bobcat attack was, once again, people as it is possible today to eradicate rabies in a country with the proper controls and commitment. An example is the UK.

The third example concerns a man in Hermantown, USA:

Hermantown, MN

This man, Gary Lucia, kept ducks in his garage at night for protection. He was in his garage with his ducks (except for one, who had been killed by the bobcat as far as I can see) when a bobcat came into the garage for the ducks as prey. Gary defended them and was attacked as a consequence. He sustained a bite to the head, scratches and a rabies jab afterwards. Yes, a bit scary but the comments to the article that reported this incident concur with me. This was a bobcat behaving normally going after prey. It was just one of those things. Of course, the neighbourhood got scared and set traps but why punish the bobcat for behaving naturally? In setting traps and wishing to kill this cat we are accepting that we cannot live with other wild animals of this size and type. Sad don’t you think? A lot of visitors won’t think it is sad but I do.

In conclusion, I see a lot of influence from the activities of people that underpins these attacks. We need to look at ourselves as to the causes. We need to think about how we can avoid bobcat attacks by taking better proactive measures. It is in our hands as usual. The following map shows the range of the bobcat, meaning where it is to be found and where attacks might take place:

Below is a table that shows the size of a sample of deer that were attacked by bobcat in Vermont. The deer sampled were quite a lot bigger than the American bobcat that attacked them which supports the argument that these courageous cats will attack prey much larger than themselves. This in turn opens the door to the possibility that they can attack us. That means we need to be vigilant and take proactive measures. It is in our hands to manage the situations under which a potential attack can take place to both avoid injury to ourselves and the cat.

Sample of 37 deer killed by bobcats in Vermont – Foot LE 1945 The Vermont deer herd: A study in productivity
Number of deer Weights
6 less than 23 kilograms
22 between 23 and 34 kilograms
8 between 45 and 67 kilograms
largest 68 kilogram buck (149 pounds)




Comments

Bobcat Attack — 10 Comments

  1. I whole heartedly agree with you that humans are directly and indirectly, in a variety of ways, the causing source for attacks on humans by wild animals. I find it frustrating & sad that, in this day & age, humans don’t take the proper measures by taking the issue by the hand. Blaming, & killing the animal is pure ignorance &/or self-centeredness. It is cruel & unnecessary. Many humans still need to comprehend that our species does not rule the earth, but rather, we must live in harmony with the earth & all she sustains. It is our duty, by right consciense, to protect & take proper measures so the earth & all she sustains is in harmony. Thank you for sharing this information. WA. State, U.S.A.

    • Well said Kim. Gosh, I have a like-minded person on my side. Unfortunately humans have a tendency to be arrogant and believe the earth is theirs to do as they please with. Fine. One day they will realise that it was wrong thinking but it might be too late to do anything about it. People mortgage the future and destroy things to the detriment of future generations.

      I have to add that the bobcat was there before us. We invaded its territory. I think we need to respect that simple fact.

  2. Pingback: Did the bobcat have to be killed? | Pictures of Cats

  3. I AM 50 YEARS OLD I WAS RAISED IN THE COUNTRY…HUNTING SMALL GAME AND TRAPPING…MUSKRATS,MINK,RACCOONS,BEAVER..FOX…THAT WAS IN THE 70’S AND EARLY 80’S…..I AM MORE INTO FISHING….THOUGH I HAVE KEPT MY INTREST IN HUNTING AND TRAPPING….I GOT RID OF MY TRAPPING GEAR YEARS AGO….BUT NOW IN 2015 I PLAN ON TAKING THEM ALL UP AGAIN……PARTIALLY BECAUSE I BELIEVE THE MONITARY OR GOVERNMENTAL SYSTEM IS GONNA BREAK DOWN….AND THE OTHER PART IS THE RESURGENCE OF THE WILD ANIMALS AND THE INCREASE IN THE FREQUENCY OF THE INSTANCE OF WILD ANIMAL ATTACKS TO HUMANS….I KNOW THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GOOD REASONS FOR THIS….INCLUDING
    ENCROACHING ON THE ANIMALS LIVING AREAS BY URBAN SPRAWL AND POPULATION INCREASE….BUT THE GREATEST REASON I BELIEVE IS FROM INCREASED NUMBERS OF PREDITOR SPECIES AND THE NEED TO THIN BACK THE PREDITOR…I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING THE ATTACK OF HUMANS BY THE ALIGATOT,SHARKS,…LIONS,BEARS, WOLFS, CYOTTEES,SNAKES….AND THE RESURGENCE OF ATTACKS BY ANIMALS LIKE THE MOUNTAIN LION, THE CYOTTEE, THE WOLF…AND BEAR ARE DEFINATELY ON THE RISE….AND BUNNY HUGGERS HAVE MANAGED TO GET BOTH HUNTING AND TRAPPING RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE THAT ARE GONNA RESULT IN THE DEATH OF ALOT OF PEOPLE UNLESS THIS ISUE GETS CHANGED AND QUICKLY…TO BRING SOME OF THE PREDITORS DOWN TO NUMBERS THAT ARE MANAGABLE…BECAUSE BY THE TIME THEY GET TO BE A SERIOUS PROBLEM…IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME FOR HUMANS TO BECOME PROFICIENT ENOUGH TO EVEN TRAP OR SHOOT THESE ANIMALS…ESPECIALLY THE CATS..AND BEARS…THERE WERE JUST 3 PEOPLE IN PREDITORIAL ATTACK BY A BEAR DOWN IN FLORIDA AT CHRISTMAS 2014…AND A 5YR OLD BOY IN NAPPA VALLEY CALIFORNIA…ATTACKED BY A MOUNTAIN LION/ COUGAR 2014…..AND THERE HAVE BEEN GREAT NUMBERS OF PEOPLE ATTACKED BY THE COYOTEE…THE MOUNTAIN LION NUMBERS ARE THE MOST SERIOUS CONCEARN..IN ILLINOIS THE DNR LIES ABOUT THE FACTS..SAYING THERE ARE NO MATING PAIRS IS A LIE….MY DAD HAS SEEN A MATING PAIR AND I SAW A LARGE MALE..160+ LBS HERE IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS…AND THE AVERAGE “HUMAN DOES NOT EVEN KNOW THEY ARE AROUND..AND BY THE TIME A PERSON OSUALLY SEES A PREDITOR THAT BIG UP CLOSE…IT IS TOO LATE FOR THEM AND THEY MAY BE “DINNER”…I INTEND TO GET A WHOLE LOT MORE PROACTIVE ON THIS TOPIC….YOU WILL PROBABLY HERE ABOUT IT I AM SURE….. UNTIL THEN TRY HUNTING THE BOBCAT..OR TRAPPING THEM…I DOUBT YOU CAN EVEN GET ONE…SEND ME YOUR PICTURES…. GOD BLESS US ALL

  4. First off I will say this it’s rare for a bobcat to attack a human, but it can and does happen. Humans have a bad habbit of the it won’t happen to me mentality when it comes to wildlife.

    I have been charged by a mother grizzly bear while hiking. My friends got between her and her cubs. They wouldn’t listen to me or the ranger when it came to safety. I’m the one who was ready for anything that could happen.

    I will not blame a wild animal for doing what it does. If it’s going after livestock it’s easy prey for the wild animal. People don’t think that it could be due to the wild animal being injured and can’t hunt their regular prey. When a wild animal attacks a human it is for a varity of reasons, protection of young, protection of itself if it’s injured, maybe it’s sick with rabies, or it could have been so used to getting human food (Which by the way is a big no-no for animals) that when it approached a human and didn’t get the food it got pissed off at not getting what it was used to.

    Humans are pushing the wildlife out of their homes and killing off their natural prey, so conflicts are going to happen. Most often its going to end tragically for the animal who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    • I completely agree with all you write and no one could dispute it. It is a vey sensible argument. Yet, many humans don’t get it. I read of too many mountain lions shot in the suburbs and even when they try and tranquillize them they sometimes end up overdoing it and killing them. I feel we should make more effort to integrate with nature rather than pushing it out and killing it if it gets in the way.

  5. I am in the process of planning out a koi pond in my back yard. I plan on making it very nature friendly. And I know I run the risk of loosing koi to birds of prey, but I plan on being able to see frogs, toad, water fowl, and other critters around the pond because I love nature, and being out in it.

    I have been known to shoot coyote, raccoon, oppousm, and other animals when they have shown signs of rabies, but that is to save human lives and end the poor animal’s suffering from that horrendous desiese.

    I feel sorry for mountain lions who mistake a person on a bicycle as prey. They end up loosing their life due to either being too old to hunt their normal prey, or being to young that they don’t know humans are dangerous to them.

    The bear I mentioned in my earlier post was only trying to protect her cubs when she charged my friends and myself. My friends thought it was a dangerous animal, and true it is a dangerous animal if you don’t respect it. I said it was just doing what she thought was right to protect her cubs, I didn’t want her harmed. The good news is the rangers agreed with me, and this bear wasn’t known to be a nuseance bear, so she left alone. I don’t know if this bear is still alive now since it happened 15 years ago or so, but I can only hope she and her cubs had long happy lives doing what bears do.

    Nature needs to be treasured and persevered. People who want to destroy it don’t realize that we only have one planet and we must protect it and all the species on it.

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