Driving in the rural town of Veazie, Maine, after midnight, a woman accidentally hits what she thinks is an oversized cat. She puts the unconscious animal in her car and drives several miles.
In the town of Bangor, Maine, the cat regains consciousness. That’s when the woman realizes it’s no house cat.
She’s riding with a wild bobcat.
It may seem like a scenario for a road-trip comedy at the movies, but it really happened early Wednesday morning, police said. The woman immediately pulled over in downtown Bangor and got out of her car.
“It jumped out of her vehicle and immediately went underneath it. It was trying to find the most immediate protection,” Maine Warden Service Lt. Dan Scott told ABC News over the phone. ”Several police officers responded and one happened to have a catch pole that you put around the animal’s neck.”
After removing the bobcat from underneath the car, Game Warden Jim Fahey evaluated the animal and confirmed that the strike from the car was fatal. The bobcat was euthanized in what Sgt. Paul Edwards from the Bangor Police Department described over the phone as “the most humane way possible.”
“Some people are concerned that we killed the bobcat, but it was wounded and suffering. This is normal procedure that we engage in,” said Scott. “Maine is a big state. We have a staff of 100 game wardens and people are routinely hitting animals by accident. We don’t often have citizens driving them around in their vehicles.”
The woman involved in the incident declined to comment to ABC News, and police declined to publicly identify her.
Bobcats can range in size anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds and often have spots or stripes covering their grey and brown coats, according to Adam Zorn, a naturalist at Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco, N.Y. They are shy and secretive, with only rare reported incidents of direct human contact, he said.
But does a bobcat look sort of like an oversized house cat?
“That would be a really big house cat,” he said. “Most cats have long tails, and a bobcat does not. They have short, stubby tails. Also, their appearance is an indicator. They look like they are built to live in the wilderness.”
Edwards emphasized the danger of approaching a wild animal in his police report.
“Although this seems amusing,” he wrote, “one should always be careful handling injured animals and call local animal control officer or game wardens when in doubt.”