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By John Myers, Forum Communications Co., Published January 20 2010

Warden kills starving bobcat that attacked dog

An apparently starving bobcat met a small dog in a small garage in Littlefork, Minn., last week, an encounter that turned out fatal for both animals.

Lloyd Steen, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, was called to the Koochiching County home Thursday on reports that a dog had disappeared and that a “cougar” was trapped in the owner’s garage.

The cat turned out to be a 30-pound female bobcat.

Koochiching County deputies and Steen arrived about 8 a.m.

“The lady said she hadn’t seen the dog since she let it out to do its thing at 4:30 … And she said she had the cat still trapped in the garage,” Steen said.

The woman had blocked a swinging pet door into the garage to keep the cat in.

Steen said he suggested simply opening the garage service door to let the wild cat escape into nearby woods. But the deputies told Steen the cat had been seen “stalking” near people in the town in recent days and that it should be destroyed.

“I went in with a flashlight and my (handgun) and crouched down to see two green eyes staring at me from under a four-wheeler” ATV, Steen said. “I had a safe shot, so I took it.”

Steen said closer examination found the bobcat to be nearly emaciated, with bones and ribs showing through its skin.

“There wasn’t an ounce of fat on that animal,” Steen said. “Our winter, up until the thaw this past weekend, had been pretty tough on animals that had to wade through that deep snow.”

One of the deputies later went back into the garage and found the 15-pound dog, apparently a poodle, dead.

Steen, a 30-year veteran officer and longtime outdoorsman, said it appeared the bobcat entered the garage through the pet door, either smelling the dog or something else, and that it attacked the dog inside the garage.

“I’ve never had to shoot an animal in a garage before,” Steen said. “But that’s the interesting thing about (working in) law enforcement. You never know each day what the calls are going to be.”


John Myers is a reporter at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, owned by Forum communications Co.