While looking out at his backyard on Division Street, David Butler of Ionia saw what he thought was a house cat, but turned out to be a bobcat.
The Ionia Department of Public Safety (IDPS) went out Sunday to investigate the sighting, and on Monday set a live trap and searched the area.
The bobcat was spotted coming across the lawn from the Butler’s fence, and David Butler called his daughter, Emma Butler, over to see it.
“I saw this cat and thought, ‘That’s a different kind of cat,” recalled David Butler, adding that when his daughter saw the cat she said, “This is not a cat.”
When the bobcat starting growling at her pet cat Lefty, Emma Butler tried to shoo it away and got bit on the hand.
“Emma came out with her phone to take pictures, she wants to be a photographer, when (the bobcat) started to go towards her cat,” said Rhonda Butler, Emma Butler’s mother. “She stuck her hand out to shoo it away, and that is when it nailed her.”
Emma Butler received one tooth bite and a few scratches. So far, she has received 11 shots, and will have to continue treatment for the next 28 days.
“I’m glad she was not hurt worse,” said Rhonda Butler about her daughter. “If it can do that to a 14-year-old girl, what can it do to a toddler? That is what scares me.”
The Department of Public Safety came to the house on Monday to set up a trap and look around the area for the bobcat.
“It’s very unusual to see bobcats in a residential area,” said IDPS Director Dave Bulling. “It has been confirmed that it is a young bobcat.”
IDPS officers also went door to door in a three block radius to warn people of the animal.
“We walked the wooded area over on the east and west sides, and we did not find anything that resembled a den,” said IDPS Director David Bulling. “Bobcats cover a large area each day in their travels.”
Bulling added that it is probably unlikely that the animal is still in the area, but advises residents to be cautious with small animals and warn their children not to approach the animal.
David Butler said Emma’s cat Lefty paid no attention to the animal, and that Lefty will be staying inside for the next couple days; not only for safety, but because he has already been caught in a live trap.
Residents should not try to capture the bobcat, and if it is sighted, call the Ionia Department of Public Safety at 616-527-4431.
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