POSTED: 9:26 pm MST December 15, 2009
UPDATED: 6:53 am MST December 16, 2009
PHOENIX -- Bobcat attacks are unusual to begin with in Arizona, but this one is one folks will be talking about for years.
A Yavapai County man, attacked by a bobcat Monday afternoon, strangled the animal with his bare hands, according to officials from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
"I've never heard of anything like that happening," said Randy Babb, of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The man strangled the animal, then put his knee into its chest to subdue it, according to wildlife officials.
"Animals just don't go around attacking people, especially small animals -- (they) go to great lengths to avoid humans," said Babb. "When you see an attack like that, you know there's something else at work."
State officials learned Tuesday the bobcat tested positive for rabies.
"This was particularly unusual because the gentleman killed the animal with his bare hands, and that was very advantageous because the animal wasn't out potentially exposing other people to rabies. We were able to get the animal in for testing right away," said Babb.
Wildlife officials said the attack happened in the man's yard near Crown King Trail in Yavapai County, about 12 miles north of Lake Pleasant.
The Arizona Department of Health Services is reporting 244 animals have tested positive for rabies as of Dec. 7. That is a record number of cases.
In 2008, the state also reported a record number of cases -- with 176 animals testing positive for rabies.
State officials did not identify the victim due to privacy laws, but said anyone who has been exposed to the rabies virus needs to undergo rabies treatments.
Officials said this is a good reminder to residents to be aware.
"If you have a wild animal that is allowing you to approach it closely, or it approaches you, it is a warning sign you should stay away from it. You should avoid it at all costs," said Babb.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org