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Holden man shoots, kills attacking bobcat

HOLDEN — A local man who had just come home from work said he threw a bobcat that attacked him to the ground and shot it to death.

Michael Votruba, 24, got home from work on Monday, got out of his truck, and went to the passenger side to grab his things when he saw an animal scurry into the space between the carport and his house.

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The growling animal, which he estimated weighed 25 to 30 pounds, started to approach him, so Votruba drew the handgun he was carrying.

When he fell backward, the cat jumped on his leg.

He shook the cat off his leg and ran a few steps before the animal jumped on his chest.

Votruba said he grabbed the cat by the neck, threw it to the ground, and shot it twice.

That did not deter the animal, which jumped back on his chest.

‘Most of the time they’re shy and secretive, and the only time they show aggression to people is when they’re rabid.’

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He shot it two more times. Then his girlfriend brought out his rifle, which had been locked inside, so he shot the animal several more times to kill it.

He credited the firearms with saving his life.

‘‘There’s a good chance I would have had to smother it or something,’’ he told The Telegram & Gazette. ‘‘There’s a good chance I would have got cut to shreds.’’

Votruba said he had holes in his shirt, but did not suffer any scratches to his chest.

He did have a scrape on his elbow. He went to a hospital and received rabies shots as a precaution, and an updated tetanus shot.

A Massachusetts Environmental Police officer took the animal for testing at a state lab. A spokesman said Thursday that results were not yet available, but the department did say the bobcat had porcupine quills embedded in its skin.

The estimated statewide bobcat population is about 1,200 to 1,300, said Tom O’Shea, assistant director of wildlife at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

‘‘Most of the time they’re shy and secretive, and the only time they show aggression to people is when they’re rabid,’’ he said.

In January, a bobcat attacked a man and his teenage nephew in Brookfield, about 15 miles from Holden.

That animal tested positive for rabies.

Still, O’Shea said there is no need for alarm.

‘‘People should be more wary of raccoons, skunks, and even stray cats,’’ he said.

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