HERRIMAN, Utah — A real-life nightmare; that’s how some Herriman residents described a man’s run-in with a bird of prey on the Juniper Crest Trail Tuesday.
“‘I just got attacked,’ and before he even said anything, I assumed the worst, and I thought maybe like a mountain lion or something,” said Heidi Neill McDermott, wife of the bird attack victim. “And he’s like, ‘No, I just got attacked by a big bird.'”
The lead bird trainer at Utah’s Hogle Zoo says, this doesn’t surprise him, because summer marks fledging season.
“Fledging is when the youngsters are kind of leaving the nest for the first time, so they’re flapping a little bit. They’re learning how to fly, and that can be kind of a perilous time for them,” said Nick Harris. “So that’s why those parents are definitely going to be defensive.”
Experts say birds don’t go after any noise, scent, or color in particular, so what can we do?
“Well, of course, the simplest solution is to just avoid the area. If you noticed that there is a bird that’s kind of being aggressive in a certain area, you can put up a sign, try walking around it,” Harris said. “If you absolutely have to go through that area, maybe an umbrella.”
But Harris reminded hikers that birds are generally not aggressive creatures, and incidents like the one in Herriman are rare.
That’s about as much damage as I would ever expect to see,” said Harris. “Generally what those birds are going to do; they’re going to dive-bomb. They just want the threat of the predator to avoid the area.”
Harris said he recognizes the bird that attacked the hiker as a red-tailed hawk from the shape of the wings and tail. The hiker himself; he lived to tell about it.
“It all cleaned up pretty well, and we got some Neosporin on there,” McDermott said. “He’s doing a lot better once we got through the blood and got that all cleaned off. It’s good. He’s fine.”
That’s some good news, and some more good news; experts say fledging season generally winds down at the end of July, so baby birds will be off on their own, and humans can worry less about their parents.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources reminds people of the Migratory Bird Act, which makes disturbing or moving the nest of most birds illegal.
BALTIC, Conn. – The golfer who had to fight off a rabid bobcat last week at the Mohegan Sun Country Club is sharing what happened in the moments before and during the attack.
Michael Popkowski says he doesn’t remember everything, but he showed off the scars from the attack.
“I got lacerations on my scalp… I’ve got bite mark puncture wounds from mid-left arm up to my shoulder.” Popkowski told WTIC the entire incident lasted just 2 to 3 minutes.
He was golfing with friends at the Mohegan Sun Country Club last Thursday when the animal attacked. Popkowski said, “What the f*** is this! And my language didn’t get much better during the whole thing as I recall…. You know I didn’t know what to think.”
He says he was warned by a friend moments before the attack. He says he was able to turn his back to the bobcat as it pounced, but wasn’t able to fully dodge the animal.
Popkowski says the wounds may look bad now, but he says he didn’t feel anything during the attack. Popkowski said, “Honestly I didn’t feel pain during the attack… I think, I don’t know I’m not a scientist, but I think your adrenaline or whatever takes over, I honestly didn’t feel anything.”
Popkwoski wasn’t the only victim, a few moments earlier the bobcat attacked a horse named Bella nearby.
The Connecticut Wildlife Division says it’s tracking about 50-bobcats to see where groups are gathering noting there is an increase in the population size.
Experts say attacks like the one on Popkowski are rare.
Geoff Krukar a wildlife biologist said, “Bobcats in general are not known for being aggressive towards humans…you know bobcats, unless they have rabies it’s not going to attack people. They aren’t looking at humans as a food source.”
Krukar says the best way to defend yourself in case of an attack is to cover your face and neck.
“You want to try and keep tabs on the animal because you’re probably going to want an animal control officer or a conservation expert come out and have it tested for rabies”
Popkowski says he wants to finish the treatments for exposure to rabies, so he can put this behind him.
Popkowski said, “I do wonder if it’s a 100% guarantee that it’s going to work, that I am not going to turn into a werewolf you know in a full moon, but you know it is a big concern. I have to be confident the protocol works.”
Popkowski has two more shots to complete before he is done with his treatments.
He says this will not deter him from golfing but says he will think twice about going to get a ball in the woods.
WTIC reached out the Mohegan Sun Country Club for comment, but they declined an interview.