Bobcat terrorizes Cottonwood By Jon Hutchinson, Staff Reporter- Camp Verde Bugle
Thursday, March 26, 2009
"A bobcat went wild in Cottonwood and attacked three people in separate locations.
About 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Ruth Ann Van Gorder left her daughter's house and turned on Fir Street. She braked hard but still hit an animal crossing the road. Worried, she got out and walked toward the bobcat, even though a voice from another car warned that it could be dangerous.
Ruth turned around, thinking instead about calling Game and Fish, when she heard the same voice shout a warning. As she turned, the cat was leaping at her and the weight knocked her to the ground. She said she grabbed the scruff of its neck while it was clawing for her face. Just as Ruth Ann was losing her grip, the man's large work boot kicked the animal away from her face and the bobcat ran into the brush.
In a daze and bleeding from a scrape on her nose, she climbed into her car and drove to her daughter's house, bleeding heavily from that cut on the nostril of her nose. She called police and Game and Fish, who insisted she go to the Emergency Room and get a tetanus shot and antibiotics.
She told the newspaper that she neglected to thank the kind man who intervened to keep the cat off her face.
As she was leaving the ER, another man was coming in with cuts to his face. It turns out it may have been the same bobcat.
It also may have been the same cat that ran into a woman employee of the Pizza Hut on Main Street. The cat was reported to have had a "stalking behavior." The woman was working behind the restaurant at the time when the cat ran up to her and scratched her legs before it fled across the street to the Chaparral Bar.
Mark De Bottis and friends were leaving the Chaparral, around midnight, when he heard a growl outside the front door. He said "It looked like a cat at first, but the way it growled, I knew it wasn't"
Mark jumped back through the door and the cat ran right through the door past him, first, up onto a pool table. Then the animal got off the table and kept low underneath the tables seeming to wander aimlessly.
Patrons of the bar at first jumped on bar stools and then gathered around the animal.
"It wasn't really aggressive at first, just wandering around."
Mark and his friends were taking pictures of the animal with their camera cell phones. Kyle Hicks kneeled down to take a picture about three feet from the cat, when the animal lunged at his face, grabbing him around the head. At that point, the crowd split apart. Kyle says he "punched" at the cat to get it off his head.
At some point, another man Derek Oliver was scratched on the leg by the animal.
Someone called police who arrived quickly, according to Mark. When they got to the bar, the cops called for paramedics and then could hear the animal growling beneath a car on the back lot.
After the three attacks already, the officers backed up when suddenly the cat began moving toward them, even though it had an alternate path away from humans.
Cottonwood Officer Cody Savage reported that after he shot once at the animal, "it stopped for a second and continued. I fired again and saw that it caused considerable damage to the animal but it still continued to stand. I felt the animal was capable of lunging or otherwise injuring bystanders so I fired a third time dispatching the animal."
The concrete wall around the property kept the handguns rounds from escaping the property.
Kyle went to the ER and was treated for a gash under his eye, on the nose and the back of the head, and across his sideburns. One cut tore a gash in his ear, which was "glued" back together. He says, he is thankful the bar picked up the tab for the medical expenses.
After the animal was shot, the carcass was sent to a laboratory to be tested for rabies. Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning reported Thursday that tests returned positive for rabies in the wild animal. All the victims with scratches or cuts from contact must now receive a series of shots to protect against infection. The rabies virus invades the nervous system and can cause inflammation of the brain. It can be fatal if left untreated.
Spokesman Zenon Mocarski of Arizona Game and Fish urges people to be very cautious of wild animals that enter urban areas. It is unusual to see bobcats in an urban setting as in this case. "They are very elusive," says Mocarski. "They blend in well. They have good camouflage."
A cardinal rule is to avoid feeding wild animals encouraging their activity. Be especially cautious of animals that act in an unusual fashion. Report promptly any suspicious animal activity. Keep your own pets on a leash when outdoors.
The state health department has issued an advisory that the number of rabies cases, which reoccur cyclically, is up again this year, calling it an "outbreak."
(OUTSIDE.. "There is NO PLACE LIKE IT!!")