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Bobcats a danger to small pets, not people

An adult bobcat

Foxes, coyotes, armadaillos, herons among wildlife spottings in area 

Brentwood Home Page
A large-size cat spotted in Brentwood last week – believed to be a bobcat – shouldn’t pose any concerns for residents themselves but it might be a danger to small pets, a state wildlife official said. 

It’s actually not unusual for bobcats to be roaming in neighborhoods and cities locally, according to Doug Markham, the Middle Tennessee information officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

“They’re nighttime killers,” Markham said. “They come out around the gloaming, when it starts to get dark, and they hunt at night. They’re here a lot; they’re just not seen that much.”

Markham hasn’t heard any reports of any bobcats in the state attacking humans, and said “they’re not anything to be greatly feared in Tennessee.”

“They probably have as much fear of human beings as we do of them,” he said. “They’re secretive critters. . . . They’re definitely cats.”

Bobcats are native to the area as are foxes, while coyotes have been migrating to the area and armadillos are also moving this way from the western part of the country.  Blue herons, a tall bird sometimes seen standing in creeks, are another animal that the agency sometimes gets calls about because they’re an unusual sight for many people.

“One lady called and thought she had seen a prehistoric bird,” Markham said.

Wild animals, meanwhile, are becoming more adaptable. Anywhere there’s a small plot of land in Middle Tennessee, you’re apt to see wildlife, he noted.

“There are a lot of people that have not grown up in areas where wildlife generally was thought to be,” Markham said. “As our population grows and animals tend to filter back into the city, it surprises them. They’re here now – they’re coming back to where they’ve been displaced.

“… As the human population is growing and mixing in with (wild life), these things are learning to live with us.”

Markham said that like other wildlife predators, such as coyotes, the biggest fear he would have from bobcats is for the safety of cats or small dogs.

“I’m going to take some kind of action to protect them, such as putting them behind a fence or taking them inside,” he added.

A bobcat’s diet mostly consists of small animals, and they will generally eat any creature from a rabbit-size and down, such as mice, moles and voles, according to Markham.

“They’ll eat a lot of things to survive. They’re predator without a doubt,” the TWRA spokesman said.

If they are hungry and desperate for food, they could possibly prey on larger animals.

“A big one is like 40 pounds, so you can kind of do the math,” Markham said about bobcats in the area. “They’re not very big critters.”

While bobcats here are returning to their native habitat, the coyote is an animal that has moved into the state and “coyotes are here to stay,” he added.

 Although he hasn’t heard of humans being attacked by coyotes in Tennessee, Markham said the predator is “rough on pets.”

Wolves formerly lived in Tennessee, and bobcats and foxes have always been in the area.

“Foxes, especially red foxes, are regularly sighted in neighborhoods,” Markham said. “People are scared of them, but they can be fun to watch.”

Markham recommended that with a Google search on the computer, many residents can read up on different types of wildlife when sighted. “That can help eliminate a lot of fears,” he said.

Another site they can check is the TWRA’s www.TNwildlife.org for information on non-regulated animals.

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