A Vermont woman is telling her dramatic story of surviving a battle with a rabid bobcat.
Jenn Gaudette of Wilder was one of three people scratched and bitten by a bobcat this week, which was put down by a Vermont Fish & Wildlife game warden Wednesday.
“I didn’t think I was going to live through that,” Gaudette told necn and NBC 10 Boston, recalling the bobcat attack. “I was screaming my head off!”
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Gaudette said she was on her porch in Wilder when a bobcat crept up on her and attacked, for no reason.
The only weapon she could grab to scare off the big cat was a broken screen door leaning against the home.
“I grabbed the door and started beating it with the door,” said Gaudette, who was left with a claw mark on her leg and bite wounds to her lower back.
Gaudette said she is just so grateful her 4-year-old was out of harm’s way.
“It would’ve been a bloodbath,” the mom said.
Roughly ninety minutes later, there was another attack, down the road in White River Junction.
A woman suffered injuries to her hands.
“It was an unprovoked attack,” Kyle Isherwood, a Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department game warden, said of the attack of the second woman.
Isherwood said he found the bobcat under a vehicle, and when it lunged at him, he shot and killed it with his assigned service shotgun.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods, and I’ve never been charged by a bobcat before, so that was a first,” Isherwood said.
Thursday, Isherwood said state lab tests confirmed an aggressive strain of rabies, which leads to erratic behavior in animals.
“Some of the symptoms are unprovoked attacks,” the warden explained. “Sometimes, they even attack imaginary objects—they think something’s there and they start attacking it, but it’s nothing.”
Media attention on the attacks Wednesday prompted a third victim to come forward, the Fish & Wildlife Department said.
Isherwood told necn and NBC 10 Boston that a man Tuesday night in Norwich had a dangerous encounter with what is believed to be the same bobcat that attacked the two women the following day.
The man was taking a picture of the animal on the road from his car window, Isherwood said and told wardens the bobcat jumped toward his window, scratching and biting him as he fought it off.
Isherwood said that should serve as a reminder to always give animals a safe and respectful distance.
Fish & Wildlife said that man sought medical help after hearing through news reports that the animal was likely rabid.
“We all appreciate the rapid coverage of this story by the media which may very well have prevented the man from coming down with rabies, which is almost always fatal,” Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said in a written statement Thursday.
All the victims injured by the bobcat received post-exposure medical treatment, wildlife officials said, aimed at preventing rabies.
As for Jenn Gaudette, she said physicians have told her she is expected to make a full recovery.
The animal attack victim said she will likely never look at her backyard the same way again.
“I still can’t believe it,” Gaudette said.
Isherwood said Vermont is home to a significant population of bobcats, in all corners of the state. He noted the animals are elusive though, with healthy ones usually preferring to stay far from people.