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In recognition of International Cat Day

A Bluffton cat story you will never forget – November 1956 mystery animal killed five coon dogs in rural Bluffton

In recognition of International Cat Day, here's a Bluffton cat story from 1956 that my make you rethink about letting your dogs out tonight. This story is in two parts.

In late November 1956 – The major topic of residents of the LaFayette and Bluffton area was of a mysterious animal that “cried like a baby and screamed like a woman.”

A front page story in the Bluffton New described the circumstances surrounding this mystery.

The story from the Nov. 29, 1956, Bluffton News follows:

Head: Cry’s like a baby, screams like a woman

- Mystery animal kills five coon dogs

Bluffton News story: A mysterious night-prowling animal that “cries like a baby and screams like a woman” and powerful enough to break a coon dog’s back is again on the prowl in the Lafayette area, according to local coon hunters.

The strange animal which is believed to have killed at least five or six coon dogs since it was first hear in 1950 is back again, according to Mr. and Mrs. Dallas Yoakam of the Lafayette area.

The animal was first heard by the Yoakams while hunting coon in the old Perry Bechtol woods three miles northeast of Lafayette.

“First it sounded like the low cry of a human baby,” the Yoakams describe it.

Their coon hound approached the sound. Then it turned and scurried away, tail between legs.

Mr. Yoakam learned that other hunters have heard the same cry.

Some said it sounded like an angry woman.

In 1952 one of the Yoakam boys and a friend were hunting. When they encountered the weird sound, one of their dogs attacked the animal. The mangled body of the canine was found, heck broken.,

Attempts to identify and capture the animals have failed. This year, after Mr. and Mrs. Richard Watt reported hearing the animal near the Sandusky road northeast of Lafayette, a posse was formed and a square mile area was searched without success.

The last coon hound reported to have been killed by the animals was owned by Wayne Hauenstein who lives about seven miles northeast of Lafayette.

Mr. Yoakam advises hunters to use caution if they run onto the animal. It could be dangerous.

Persons having dogs killed under unexplainable circumstances are asked to contact Yoakam.

Follow-up story the next week

That coon dog killer, the animal that cries like a baby and screams like a woman, reported to have invaded local woodlands, is probably a lynx, we have been advised by at least two persons since the story appeared in last week’s Bluffton News.

Mrs. Harold Hendricks called to say that summer residents near St. Ignace at the Michigan Straits reported hearing such an animal last summer when she was visiting there.

“When you find that animal… if you ever do…it’ll be a lynx,” one old native of the area told the summer people.

It was found, and it was a lynx, according to Mrs. Hendricks.

Lou Burkholder also reported he had experienced in Gladwin county, Michigan, the killing of a lynx cat that the populace reported hearing “almost human screams.” This particular cat had tufted ears and big furry paws and weight 64 pounds.

Lou says they’ll jump a man from the limb of a tree.

We were all for organizing a lynx hunt when up pops an item by Dion Henderson writing for the Associated Press in which he claims that the lynx had all but disappeared from the U.S. Even in the wildest north country biologists refer to the lynx as a remnant species, says Mr. Henderson.

He declares that hundreds of lynx are reported every year from places where they never existed, and this, he claims, is due to mistaking a relative, the bobcat.

Size is not a true distinction, say Henderson, since bobcats will average close to 20 pounds, and a gib one may go as high as 40 pounds.

In color, too, they are similar – mottled gray. But the lynx is more nearly an even grew than the thoroughly speckled bobcat.

Best way to tell a lynx from a bobcat is to look at his ears. The lynx has tufted ears with the upswept hairs frequently several inches long where the bobcat has only a trace of a tuft. Paws of the cats are a head give-away – the bobcat has a foot like a house cat and the lynx walks on huge hairy snowshoes.

Now we don’t know whether the mysterious animal near Lafayette is a lynx or a bobcat, and we aren’t anxious to meet either one. But if anyone sees him, be sure to look at his ears, because if we hear him, we’ll be looking the other way.

The clipping from the Nov. 29, 1956, Bluffton News front page



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