By R.J. Smiley
On a recent April morning, a surprise ambush left a 70-year-old golfer mauled and bleeding on a golf course in Connecticut. It was not from another golfer who had been beaned by a golf ball. The attack was from a bobcat with rabies.
Mike Popowski met up with his regular foursome at Mohegan Sun Golf Club. The group likes to get in their round early before the beautiful golf course, operated by the Mohegan Sun Casino, gets too busy. “The first six holes were uneventful, just regular golf and chit chat,” Popowski said.
“I hit my ball into the woods that border the 7th hole. As I approached my ball, one of my buddies warned me to look out. I saw something racing directly toward me. I thought, ‘What the F*** is this?’ I was able to turn my back, but instantly the animal was on the left side of my back and shoulder. My language did not get any better as he bit and scratched my back, left shoulder and my head. I really don’t remember much about the attack. And I did not feel any pain. All I remember is that this bobcat charging at me; smelling like a skunk and growling and snarling.”
A member of the foursome and Poplowski’s golf buddy, Fred Martinelli, said, “It was surreal. You see what was taking place, going down, and you’re saying, ‘That can’t possibly be – a whatever it was on top of Mike.’”
Other members of the foursome described the animal jumping on Poplowski, biting the left side of his body and clawing his head. “We attempted to help Mike by hitting the bobcat with his golf club while he was thrashing around. Finally Mike fell down a hill. That is when the bobcat released its hold and ran off.”
“I got lacerations on my scalp… I’ve got bite mark puncture wounds from mid-left arm up to my shoulder,” Popkowski told a local TV station. The entire incident lasted just two to three minutes.” The cuts to Popkowski’s head required 11 staples to close. He also received other medical treatment for cuts from bites and scratches.
After spending some time tracking down the bobcat, the wildlife authorities were forced to put it down. The animal tested positive for rabies so Poplowski is receiving the full and painful treatment for rabies.
The local wildlife authorities said that the same bobcat had attacked a horse earlier that morning. A nearby veterinarian owns the horse, named Bella. The vet told reporters that she was in the coral when she saw a panicked deer and wild turkeys fleeing something. Then she saw the rabid bobcat attack Bella. Bella received cuts on her head and neck, the most serious being a bad cut just above her left eye.
Wildlife authorities said they have been monitoring about 50 bobcats in the area as the numbers have been rising rapidly. They also said that humans are not of the normal food chain for bobcats. “Attacks on humans are very rare!”
Who would believe the dangers of playing a recreational round of golf would include being ambushed by a rabid bobcat.