A couple visiting with friends on Wednesday were attacked by a bobcat.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said a woman was playing with the homeowner’s dog in the backyard of a Rockhill Road home when she heard growling and hissing. The bobcat attacked the woman, biting her several times, before the dog she was with fought back.
Apple said the bobcat then ran into a nearby garage and attacked the woman’s husband, also biting him several times. He was able to pin the animal with a chair and the homeowner shot and killed the bobcat with a .22-caliber rifle.
Photos of the dead bobcat that were supplied to The Daily Gazette show the animal laid out on a deck, bleeding from the nose and head.
Apple’s office sent a press release that said the bobcat was sent to the state Deppartment of Environmental Conservation’s Wildlife Health Unit in Delmar.
“A necropsy was performed [Thursday] morning and the adult male bobcat weighed 22 pounds,” said the sheriff’s office. “Its body smelled of skunk spray and its face was covered in porcupine quills.”
The bobcat’s head was sent to the state’s Wadsworth Laboratory in Guilderland for rabies testing, the release said. “Albany County [Department. of Health] will release results from the test,” said the sheriff’s office. The Health Department did not return a request for comment.
DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson believes the test will come back positive for rabies.
“It’s always the result of a rabid animal,” Georgeson said. “Bobcats don’t attack people unless they’re sick.”
In New York, the sheriff’s office said, there have been 12 documented cases of rabies in bobcats since 1990, five of which involved bites or scratches to humans. All of the bobcats that tested positive for rabies were a result of the raccoon variant of the disease, said the sheriff’s office.
“It’s very uncommon,” Georgeson said of bobcat attacks. “Typically a bobcat will do anything they can to avoid being around people. It’s just the sickness of the rabies that caused them to attack in this manner.”
Apple said he’s never seen a bobcat, let alone a bobcat attack, in his 29 years in law enforcement.
“And I’m a hunter. I’ve been out in the woods,” said Apple. “I’ve been up there, and I’ve never even seen a bobcat cross the road. They’re very elusive animals.”
The victims, whom Apple said live locally, are home and recovering.
The sheriff’s office released a tip sheet that said bobcats are typically solitary and territorial creatures, but have been increasing in number in the state.
A bobcat’s average size ranges from around 14 pounds for females and 21 pounds for males, although weight exceeding 30 pounds is possible, said the sheriff’s office. They feed primarily on small mammals but can take down larger animals such as white-tailed deer.
“Because bobcats are solitary, territorial animals, they are not common in high numbers in any one location. Bobcats typically avoid areas of high human development, but may be found anywhere suitable habitat exists,” the release said.
Despite the statewide increase in bobcats, the sheriff’s office said human/bobcat conflicts are rare, with “most being related to preying on poultry or other small livestock. Attack on humans by healthy bobcats are exceedingly rare.”
Bobcats, however, have been documented with rabies and can be dangerous when afflicted, the sheriff’s office said.
Despite this, said DEC’s Georgeson, people should not be afraid of the animals.
“People should not be scared of bobcats; they’re very timid and elusive creatures,” he said. “You should count yourself lucky if you see one.”