This concerns the bobcat that found its way into the garage of a Brookfield, Massachusetts resident on Sunday 6th January 2013. It is not unusual for bobcats to wander around suburbia or into people’s yards etc. This is because people build properties on the home ranges of bobcats.
Liz (Hairless Cat) picked this story out for me. Thanks Liz. The end result of the incident was that the bobcat was shot twice with a handgun and killed. I am questioning the killing of this cat. Not a single person in America will think me sane for questioning it!
The Scenario in Brief
A bobcat enters a large garage. Roger Mundell, the home owner, walks into the garage to get something. We are told he “discovered” the cat in the garage. Without warning or time to get away, Mr Mundell was attacked full on. The bobcat must have jumped up to his head height because the man had scratches on his face. The cat then ran out of the garage and attacked his wife’s 15 year old nephew. Mr and Mrs Mundell then got the cat away from the 15 year old and shot the cat.
Bobcats very rarely attack people. Wise. It is assumed that this cat had rabies. Some segments of the media have made a presumption that the cat had rabies calling it a “rabid bobcat”. That is irresponsible I think.
How common is rabies in bobcats? Well, it is rare as I understand it. The bobcat is not a reservoir species of rabies. In 2001 28 rabid bobcats were reported. That seems to be the total number in all of the United States¹. The most common animals to have rabies are the bat and raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. These are rabies reservoir animals.
We don’t know if this bobcat had rabies, at this time. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the bobcat was not rabid. Why did he attack this man? What happened in the garage? The truth is we don’t know.
Perhaps Mr Mundell cornered the cat. I don’t know but that seems likely. The cat may simply have felt cornered. But if the cat was not rabid and still attacked the man the cat must have been in a state of high aggressive self-defence. Having attacked the man the cat would have remained in a state of aggression and be highly defensive transferring his aggression from the man (who may have attacked the bobcat for all I know) to the 15 year old. This lead to the bobcat’s death.
There is a question mark over why the bobcat was in the garage. Was there something in the garage that the cat thought was prey?
I don’t know. But what if Mr Mundell had immediately removed himself from the garage using the same exit that he had used to enter the garage? I would suggest that he would have avoided the conflict if he had done that. From there on anything was possible to control the situation to the benefit of human and cat.
I have this feeling that Mr Mundell might have made some inadvertently inappropriate moves in the garage, which caused the cat to attack. I don’t think we have the full story. Obviously if the press do a follow-up story reporting that the cat was rabid, everything written here will be seen in a different light. However, I predict we will hear no further news about this bobcat attack (this proved incorrect).
Update: Having written the post, I have just seen that a newspaper has reported that the cat was rabid. I would like to see the results before I believe that! The basic principles of what I am saying still stand, however.
The ideal end game would have been for the cat to have continued on its way. If there had been no attack there would have been no indication it seems to me that this cat had rabies. There is no mention of any other signs of rabies. The object is surely for humans to try and live in harmony with other animals. I guess I am being ridiculously naive in saying that considering the bobcat is still widely hunted for its skin in North America.
There is a slight tendency, as far as I am concerned, for people to overreact when confronted with either the relatively small bobcat and the mountain lion. The tendency is to reach for the ever ready gun and shoot. Passive alternatives are better. Very few will agree with that simple statement.
Reference: 1. County of Los Angeles Public Health website.
Associated page: Bobcat Attack.