MA Officials Call Rabid Bobcat Attack On Brookfield Man, Nephew Rare
State officials have confirmed a bobcat that attacked a Brookfield, Massachusetts man and his nephew this past weekend had rabies. But, they add, cases of such attacks in the state are extremely rare.
Tom French, Assistant Director of the State’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, says Sunday's incident was the 6th bobcat attack and only the 2nd on humans on record in Massachusetts. He says it was clear early on the animal that attacked the two was rabid because of its aggressive behavior, unusual for a bobcat.
“They're very shy and bashful and stay out of sight. And if they do see you, they're gone. However, with rabies, you've probably heard of the Mad Dog sort of phrase to describe how animals get when they're under the influence or rabies and they're in the process of dying from it. They are ferocious. And so was this bobcat.”
French says the bobcat most likely got rabies during an encounter with a raccoon which it sometimes hunts as prey. It's not known just how extensive the state’s bobcat population is, but they are most common in western and central Massachusetts. Despite a warning by a Brookfield town official to be “on the alert for wildlife”, French says the incident was isolated and residents should not be scared of animals.
“We always say as an agency, enjoy wildlife from a distance. Don't go up and try to pet the raccoon that doesn't run away from you. You know, that's the kind of behavior you should use. But you shouldn't lock yourself in or be afraid to go out. There's not, you know, a rabid raccoon or a bobcat hiding behind the next tree.”
Roger Mundell, the man who was attacked but who managed to shoot and kill the rabid bobcat with his wife's help, has begun receiving rabies treatments as has his nephew. French, who personally knows the family, says Mundell's wife, who was not bitten, is also being treated as a precaution.