An Ashcroft man and his dog suffered minor injuries after what appears to have been a bobcat attack in the back yard of their home near Desert Sands Community School.
Joel Anstett says that at 11:30 p.m. on July 20, his dog Apollo — a large beagle — was scratching at the door to go outside. Normally Anstett would not have gone outside with Apollo, but on this night he did.
The dog did not appear agitated, but as soon as he got outside he put his nose in the air, sniffed, and took off for the back of the shed in the back yard.
“I hadn’t heard anything,” says Anstett. “But then I heard a thud, then a grunt and a yelp, like something had landed on him.
“Then I heard a lot of rustling, and the dog started barking, and I heard really bad hissing and yowling. I thought ‘What’s going on?’”
Anstett headed to the shed and, using the flashlight on his cellphone, saw what looked like a “really, really big cat” on top of Apollo. At first he thought it was a lynx, because of its ears, but afterward identified it from pictures as a bobcat.
“I freaked out,” he says. “It was on top of my dog, and out of instinct I jumped on top of it.
“The animal and I were wrestling, and it was biting and clawing at me. I was getting chewed up pretty bad. The adrenaline was pumping, and I tossed the animal into a neighbour’s yard. It was about two times the size of Apollo, and much heavier.”
In the confusion, Apollo had escaped, and Anstett didn’t know where he had gone.
“I was distraught, and didn’t realize the door was still open. I was calling and calling, and then I heard him inside, yelping. I yelled that Apollo and I had been attacked.”
Anstett had been bitten and scratched hard on the fingers, wrist, arms, and leg. “My arm is really swollen, and I have some pretty big bite marks. I got driven into Royal Inland in Kamloops right away. I was bleeding pretty bad, but thought that if I could get bandaged up until I got to Kamloops I’d be good.
“I thought it best for the ambulance to stay in town, in case something more serious happened, as mine were not crazy life-threatening injuries.”
Anstett got shots for tetanus and rabies, and there will be two follow-up rabies shots. Apollo had bite marks on his back, which Anstett was treating until he could be taken to the vet in 100 Mile.
“He’s doing really well,” says Anstett. “We’ve been cleaning his wounds, and they’re drying up. I’m healing up right now as well.”
Although Anstett had not seen any signs of a bobcat in the neighbourhood, he says that on the two previous nights Apollo had been acting weird. “He would go to one corner of the fence and chase something, but I didn’t know what it was.” He thinks that on the night of the attack, the bobcat was sitting on the fence, saw Apollo go by, and pounced.
He adds that when he was at RIH, he was told that no one had heard of a bobcat attack.
Vanessa Isnardy, program manager for WildSafeBC, says that bobcat attacks on people are “very rare”.
“However, people can become injured when they are protecting pets or livestock,” she said via email. “Bobcats will come into communities if there are sources of food, and this includes small livestock. Conflicts should be reported to the Conservation Officer Service and attractants should be managed in a way to prevent conflict.
“With small livestock, if they are left outside unattended, they should be fenced in a way that predators cannot jump into the area or climb the fencing.”
She added that there have been lynx in Kamloops two winters in a row, as well as moose in town.
”I cannot speak as to whether bobcats in Ashcroft are unusual. However, it can likely be expected with unusual weather events and extremes, which affect predators and prey and their habitat, [that] we are likely to have more ‘unusual’ interactions like this.”
By coincidence, on July 21 the Village of Ashcroft warned residents that a cougar had been spotted at the Ashcroft Valley Estates mobile home park on Mesa Vista Courte, and warned residents to keep children and pets inside. The village sent out a second notice later on July 21 saying that the Conservation Office and RCMP had dealt with the situation and there was no longer a threat.
Anyone spotting wildlife in or around communities is urged to report it via the Conservation Office’s 24-hour R.A.P.P. (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-7277 (*7277 on a mobile phone). Sightings are updated daily on the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program map, which was developed by WildSafeBC. For more information, and to view the map, go to https://bit.ly/3opIJC1.
Anstett is just glad that Apollo is fine following the attack.
“I’ve never seen a bobcat close up, or had to wrestle or fight one. My wife and my kid and my dog are my babies. I think anyone else would have done the same thing.”