On Saturday March 28, a young hiker was attacked by a bobcat in Withlacoochee State Forest. The bobcat got away and entered private property, where it attacked a man who killed it in self-defense. Here’s the full story from the news release just issued from FWC:
A bobcat attacked two people in separate incidents in Citrus County Saturday, March 28.
Johnathon Knecht, 10, and Frank Womack, 71, both sustained scratches and bites from their encounters. Womack killed the bobcat in self defense.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers, Knecht was hiking in the Withlacoochee State Forest with his Boy Scout group when the bobcat jumped onto his back, scratching and biting. The other Boy Scouts came to Knecht’s assistance, and the animal ran back into the woods. Knecht was taken to Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness where he was treated and released.
The bobcat then moved on to Womack’s property. The animal bit Womack on the leg, and the man was able to put the cat down. Womack was treated and released at a local hospital. The bobcat was removed by county animal control officials who will test the bobcat for rabies.
Rabies always is present in wildlife populations and any warm-blooded animal can catch the disease if exposed to it. It is extremely important that people make sure their pets have current vaccinations against rabies, FWC officials said.
Wild animal attacks are infrequent. However, most of the time when they do occur, the animal is sick.
Be careful out there! The last documented attack of a hiker by a bobcat was more than 5 years ago, and I wrote about it for Florida Wildlife magazine.