Bobcats are generally not thought of as dangerous animals, especially in areas where the larger, far more deadly mountain lion lurks. However, these pint-sized predators can still be a serious concern to hunters in the field.
Two quail hunters traveling near Prescott Valley, Arizona last Thursday were attacked by a bobcat. The unnamed hunters saw the adult bobcat scamper underneath their vehicle and were met with claws and teeth when they investigated. According to the Prescott Valley Tribune, the men suffered severe lacerations and puncture marks across their chest, arms, and back. The hunter who peeked underneath the car received the brunt of the assault and the cat turned on his companion when the other man tried to remove the animal. One of the hunters eventually shot and killed the bobcat.
Bobcats, like coyotes, may be drawn to decoys or bird calls. Since these animals may carry rabies, it is always wise to be cautious while hunting for birds. Hunters bit by bobcats or coyotes are advised to destroy the animal and save the body for rabies testing. The two hunters took the carcass with them to a nearby hospital, where it was picked up by a Arizona Game and Fish employee while the men were being treated. Testing can be finished in only a few hours, and by Friday the bobcat was confirmed to have tested positive for rabies.
Animals with rabies may behave oddly. The best course of action after spotting a potentially infected animal is to call local wildlife officials. Bobcats can also be scared away by loud noises.
Fortunately, treating rabies with modern medicine is much less painful and intensive than it was in the past. Although treatment is now readily available, rabies is nearly always fatal if left untreated and treatment is effective only before symptoms appear. For people who have never been vaccinated against rabies, a series of costly vaccinations must be administered over a two-week period.
The two hunters are now undergoing treatment while wildlife officials put out additional warnings about the increased number of rabies-infected animals. It was the second rabies-related attack in Yavapai County this year.
Edit added 10/17/2013: This article originally stated that the bobcat was shot with a hunting rifle. It has since been changed to indicate that it was simply shot.
File image courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department