Stunned farmer sees cat kill calf

Author: Kristy

The Iola Register

The animal, big, black as coal and quick as the cat it was, darted from undergrowth near Duck Creek and sank its teeth into the throat of Norm Yoho’s prize bull calf.
In less than a minute the week-old calf was dead, with blood seeping from deep wounds to its throat and its stomach ripped open.
The attack caught Yoho, watching from 50 yards away, off guard.
“It happened so fast,” he said.
With nothing else at hand, Yoho grabbed a pitchfork from his truck and started toward the cat, which already was retreating, threatened itself by the calf’s mother, and several other cows in the herd of 30.
The event occurred last Saturday morning about five miles southwest of Le Roy, where Yoho had gone to feed hay, as he does each morning. The feeding station was near the creek and timber, with undergrowth dense enough to encourage residence by wild animals of all sizes and descriptions.
Yoho said the cat stood probably 2½ feet tall at its shoulders and had a tail as long as its body.
“It’s not the first time I’ve seen big cats,” he said, meaning panthers, cougars or whatever. “And I’m not the only one.”
He said hunters had told him about seeing large cats where the calf was killed, as well as elsewhere in the area.
“This one was young,” he said of the calf-killing feline, a little smaller than some he has spotted before.
After he settled down from the calf’s killing — he had planned for it being a herd bull — Yoho called the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. An agent came, looked around and allowed he didn’t see any sign of a cougar.
“There were tracks this big in the snow,” Yoho said, holding the hands to form a circle about six inches in diameter. “They (the state agency) just don’t want to admit they’re around,” although the cows had milled about and obliterated tracks the attacker left.
“If the cats can do this to a calf, they could do it to a person,” he added. “That’s a concern for me, people walking along the rail-trails,” and otherwise being out and about in the countryside, particularly alone. “I don’t think anyone should be out by themselves.”
He emphasized his concern by pointing to the disembowelment of the calf.
“See the ribs? They’re ripped apart toward the back, where the cat’s claws went. And look at that. See where a claw cut between the ribs and the skin?”
Yoho said he wasn’t the only person in the area who has been up close and personal with a big cat.
“A guy that bow hunts on my land got up in his tree stand one morning before light and when he could see well, he noticed some marks on a limb (holding his stand),” he recounted. “There were big claw marks on the limb,” which he and hunter are convinced were made by a cat.
The hunter never returned to the stand.

REPORTS of cougars and large black cats — cougars generally are an orange-brown color — have surfaced in the area for years.
Most have been dismissed as misinterpretation whenever an animal darted across a road in front of a vehicle or was seen at a distance.
But, the sighting by Yoho, 80, is different.
He butchered cattle for years, first at Iola’s M&M plant and then at a couple of others, and has been around animals all his life, including the cows he tends daily.
He’s old-school, without tendency to exaggerate.
Yoho was within a stone’s throw of where the attack occurred and had a clear view, from start to finish.
“I know what I saw,” he said.

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