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Hermantown man says he was attacked in garage by wild cat

Hermantown resident Gary Lucia suffered minor injuries after what he called an attack by a bobcat in his garage late Friday night. Lucia was working on his laptop computer and hanging out with his pet ducks and goose when a bobcat entered his gar...

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Hermantown resident Gary Lucia suffered minor injuries after what he called an attack by a bobcat in his garage late Friday night.

Lucia was working on his laptop computer and hanging out with his pet ducks and goose when a bobcat entered his garage at about 11 p.m. Friday.

The ducks and goose "started quaking really loud and getting really nervous," Lucia, 52, said of his 11 ducks and one goose. "I looked down and saw it. The bobcat was really long and on a prowl.

"He started to go after the ducks and they scattered," said Lucia, who described the cat as about 80 pounds, muscular, gray and brown in coat and with a short tail. "He pinned a few [ducks] in a corner and that is when I went after the cat. I came in from the side and that is when he came after me. Then we chased each other and he climbed on the walls and onto the overhead door. I don't know if he bit me in the head or clawed me, but I was bleeding pretty good."

After a 10-minute skirmish, Lucia said the cat and ducks scattered as they exited the garage's service door. A trail of Lucia's blood went through the doorway.

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Rich Staffon, area wildlife manager at Cloquet for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, assumes the attack came from a bobcat.

"They feed on birds, like any cat," Staffon said. "That's a big part of their diet. It wouldn't be out of the ordinary for them to go after ducks or geese.

"A large bobcat is going to be 45 pounds, but if it's sitting on a shelf taking at swipe at you, it might look like 80 pounds. ... Like any wild animal, if it's cornered, it's going to defend itself."

Hermantown police responded to Lucia's home at 5061 Benson Rd., after receiving a 911 call after 11:30 p.m.

"He had fresh scratch marks on his face," said Hermantown police Sgt. Mark Gunderson. "He had some pet ducks in his garage, and that may have attracted a wild animal into the garage."

Lucia's neighbors, Mark Dunaisky and Julie Underwood, called the authorities.

"He was freaked out," Dunaisky said of Lucia. "And I would be too. He said it was in slow motion."

Dunaisky and Underwood brought their trucks over to Lucia's property to shine headlights on the acreage and help corral his animals.

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When an ambulance arrived, Lucia said he refused care for the scratches on his forehead, cheek, back of the head and back. He said he was going to go to the doctor's office today.

"I'm just pumped up with adrenaline right now, I don't know," said Lucia of his injuries. "I don't care about me; I just care about the animals."

Earlier Friday evening, Lucia let out his ducks and two geese, including Boo Boo, a Blue Swedish Goose which won the Pets on Parade award for ugliest pet in May. A picture of Boo Boo and other award-winning pets was published in the News Tribune on May 29.

"At about quarter to eight, I went looking for the ducks to get them back from the creek," Lucia said. "Before I got there, the ducks were nervous. I started looking for Boo Boo. I just knew something happened. I got a flashlight and went looking through the woods and in my vehicle on the roads through the neighborhood."

After a two-hour search, Lucia couldn't find Boo Boo and he believes the bobcat killed the goose.

"Bobcats normally feed at night," Staffon said. "They're very common, but you almost never see them."

Lucia had Boo Boo for about six years.

"You know how people have dogs?" Lucia said as he got teary-eyed. "He was my dog. I would bring him down to Canal Park with a leash on him. ... I get emotional thinking about it."

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Lucia, a bus driver in the Duluth school district, finished by saying: "I will probably never forget it."

Staff writer Sam Cook contributed to this report.

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