A group of youth campers with the Wilderness School learned first-hand about the hazards of rabid wildlife while at a Connecticut state park on June 30. Early that morning, one of the camp counselors was sleeping in a hammock when he was attacked by a bobcat. The camp counselor and two other adults were able to fight off and kill the bobcat, which later tested positive for rabies, according to a statement from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
It’s unclear how the counselor and his companions killed the cat, but all three were injured and taken to a local hospital for treatment. None of the youth campers were harmed in the incident, which took place at Selden Neck State Park roughly five miles west of Lyme. Because the park is located on an island, first responders had to evacuate the campers by boat.
“It could’ve been much worse,” said Peter Yazbak, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, which oversees the state-run Wilderness School. “We’re happy that everyone’s just doing OK.”
Yazbak added that to his knowledge, it’s the first time that a Wilderness School group has had a dangerous encounter with a wild animal. He another local officials praised the adult counselors for their brave response to the attack.
“Due to their courageous and outstanding efforts, the safety of the youth was maintained, and they were not harmed,” deputy commissioner Michael Williams told reporters.
Bobcat populations are on the rise in Connecticut, and they can be found in all eight counties, according to DEEP. The species has been classified as a protected furbearer since 1972, however, and there are currently no hunting or trapping seasons in the state.