STOW — The Maine Warden Service is looking for a bobcat that attacked a 17-year-old boy and his father Wednesday evening in the Oxford County town of Stow and then might have attacked a small dog in nearby Lovell the next morning.
Carolynn Plowden and her son Justin first noticed the bobcat about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday as it was crossing the road near their Union Hill Road home. About 10 minutes later, the animal appeared in their yard.
It quickly became obvious to the family that the bobcat was not afraid of the family’s barking dogs and that it “was not OK, was not right in the head,” she said.
“It just did weird things like jumped up on a folded-up tarp and started biting it,” she said. “It tried to walk up the steps of the porch, then walked over to the barn and in the barn kind of rolled around and purred.”
Her husband, John, and their son went outside to confirm the cat was not a lynx, which is protected, and to keep an eye on the animal while John called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to confirm that he could shoot it. Plowden said her husband had been armed but set the gun down to make the phone call.
“They backed way up to monitor while they figured out what to do,” she said, “Then it came out and from 20 feet away it took three leaps and just launched itself at (Justin’s) face.”
The bobcat bit the teenager’s face, its teeth going through his cheek. As John tried to pull the animal off, it clawed at the boy’s back and shoulder.
The bobcat then turned and clawed at John, puncturing his arm.
The animal ran off when a neighbor shot at it. By the time a game warden and a sergeant with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office arrived, the bobcat was gone.
The father and son received multiple rabies shots at the hospital that night, including four in Justin’s face, the mother said.
“Then there’s a protocol of three, seven and 14 days of more shots,” Plowden said. “My husband is supposed to go to Japan on Monday, so we’re trying to figure out how to do this because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip and it might keep him from going.”
The next morning, Sheryl Moody and her small dog also encountered an aggressive bobcat in their neighboring town of Lovell, a few miles from the Plowdens’ home, according to the Maine Warden Service. The dog was injured by the bobcat and is now being treated by a veterinarian.
The bobcat fled from that home. It may have had porcupine quills in its face at the time, according to Cpl. John MacDonald of the Warden Service.
Plowden said their bobcat did not have quills in its face.
“So that either happened between here and there — in its state of mind, it could have attacked anything — or there’s more than one. There’s no way of saying,” Plowden said.
Game wardens were searching in the area.
MacDonald said residents should keep their distance from any bobcats they see in that area and should report sightings to the public safety dispatch in Gray (207-657-3030).
Plowden said she wants to be clear that her family does not advocate for the general shooting of bobcats. This one, she said, “was an animal that was not right.”
“We were so delighted to see a bobcat 10 minutes before that,” she said.