Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 4th, 2011
Springfield, Illinois’s The State Journal-Register reported on October 3, 2011, of the attack by a Puma concolor on a Homo sapiens. Here are some of the details from the article:
A 14-year-old deer hunter said he was attacked by a mountain lion Sunday evening, just a minute’s walk from his family’s Pike County home.
His father, a Baptist minister, said his son was fortunate.
“If God had not protected that boy, it would have been over,” said Gary Dice, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Pittsfield.
The young hunter, Jeremiah Dice, managed to fend off the attack with a knife and then ran home.
Jeremiah was taken to the emergency room out of fear of rabies, according to his mother, Pam Dice. He had no puncture wounds and was treated for scratches on his face and released.
Jeremiah described the mountain lion to a “t,” Gary Dice said.
The family was waiting Monday afternoon for representatives from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to arrive and examine Jeremiah’s clothing and knife.
“DNR is concerned I can’t prove it,” Gary said. “I trust my son, and I want the truth.
“Regardless of what it was, it is still out there, and it attacked a human being.”
‘It’s big … I’m scared’
The attack occurred near Baylis, northwest of Pittsfield. There are only three confirmed reports* of mountain lions in Illinois since they were eliminated from the state in the late 1800s. Missouri, however, has confirmed the big cats 26 times since 1994.
Gary Dice said his son was hunting in his stand when the boy heard a flock of turkeys take flight nearby.
“Then the deer started snorting,” Gary Dice said.
Jeremiah saw a large animal standing near a flag placed 20 yards from the deer stand to help hunters distance. Jeremiah then radioed his mother to alert her to what was going on.
The big cat walked out in the open, not far from a flag placed 30 yards out.
After hearing it leave the area, the boy radioed to tell her he was coming home.
“He said, ‘Mom, there’s a big cat back here,’” Gary said, relating Jeremiah’s words. “He said, ‘It’s big… he ran away, so I’m going to get down and go to the house. … I’m scared.’
“He took three steps, and it was on his back,” Gary said.
Jeremiah elbowed the animal in the ribs, throwing the animal off of him.
“He got to his knees, and there it was face to face with him,” Gary said. “He told me, ‘It just got real still, and I didn’t know what to do.’”
Jeremiah reported the animal’s breath smelled like “dead rabbits.”
“His fangs were out, and he looked eyeball to eyeball to me and lunged,” Gary said, retelling his son’s story.
The attack shredded the bill of Jeremiah’s cap and pushed it down over his face — providing some protection. His heavy camouflage coat was shredded down to the boy’s belt.
Jeremiah is already an experienced hunter at age 14.
“I’ve taught him to hunt since he was old enough to sit still,” Gary said. “He is about six feet tall and over 200 pounds. He is not just a kid.”
Jeremiah told his parents he starting swinging his hunting knife in an attempt to get the animal to leave. He cut it, but not deeply, and the animal knocked him backwards again. Jeremiah hit it in the ribs again and let go of his knife.
The big cat rolled off Jeremiah and ran off into the woods.
Gary Dice said his son started to run — backwards at first, to be sure the animal would not follow.
He grabbed his knife and ran for the house, “the fastest he had run in his life.”
When the elder Dice first heard the report of a mountain lion, he was a few minutes from home and skeptical.
“But then I saw him and the look on his face of terror and fear,” he said.
Gary Dice said Jeremiah’s description of the big cat was that it was as large as a Great Dane, with a long tail that curled.
There have been 21 confirmations in Missouri, eight in 2011. It appears that the rate of new confirmations occurring is accelerating.. Four of those occurred in September, 2011. Although there have been many confirmations and they seem to be increasing with time, there is still no evidence of a breeding population.
*Illinois has had three confirmations, the most recent one in early 2008 being the most extraordinary — a cougar shot in Chicago! DNA analysis said this was the same cat that had been confirmed earlier in southeast Wisconsin. In July 2002, a male cougar was killed by a train in Randolph County in the southwestern portion of the state. Analysis of the carcass indicated it was of North American genotype and that it had been feeding on white tailed deer. There was no evidence that this animal was ever in captivity. This appears to be a transient which traveled through Missouri which is just across the border. A second male cougar was killed by a bowhunter in December 2004 in New Boston (northwestern, ILL).
There is one recent confirmation in Indiana in May, 2010. This could be an escaped captive from a few years ago that succeeded in surviving in the wild.
Please note, for those interested in onomatology (the study of names) and toponomy (the study of places), this attack took place in Pike County, Illinois. Pike County was formed on January 31, 1821, out of Madison County. It was named in honor of Zebulon Pike, leader of the Pike expedition in 1806 to map out the south and west portions of the Louisiana Purchase. Pike served at the Battle of Tippecanoe, and was killed in 1813, in the War of 1812.
Thanks to newstipsters John Winterbauer and Seth Engelbrecht.