Bobcats in Shelton pose little threat, despite sightings

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A young bobcat was found dead in the road on Bridgeport Avenue right across from the Marriott hotel, Tuesday night.

On Tuesday evening one resident reported that they saw a bobcat that appeared to have been killed by a vehicle traveling down Bridgeport Avenue, lying in the street.

It is no secret that residents of Shelton live among bobcats, said the city’s Natural Resource Manager Teresa Gallagher.

“I speak to many residents who see them from their kitchen windows,” said Gallagher. “But they’re rarely an issue and are nothing to worry about.”

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said when these animals do rarely attack or pose a threat to humans, rabies is usually the cause.

That was the case in the most recent attack in Colchester, where a rabid bobcat attacked three women and sent them to a local medical center to have their injuries treated.

According to Gallagher, instances such as these come far and in between, but there are ways to decrease the chances of having bobcat interactions on your property.

Similar to bears and coyotes, bobcats can be drawn to your property by what you leave outside of your home.

“They’re normally pretty shy, but they can be brought in indirectly. The problem with birdfeeders, garbage and pet food that gets left outside is that it supports and attracts a large population of rodents. The bobcat, coyote and other animals will come in looking for those rodents.”

As a precaution, both Gallagher and the DEEP advise residents to closely watch their small pets and what food they leave outside of their homes. Gallagher clarified that the warning is not solely directed to the threat of bobcats.

“If you have an outdoor cat you may want to watch them and make sure to bring them inside at night, but coyotes are the real concern,” said Gallagher. “People have to watch their small dogs and be conscious of food hygiene. That’s what causes all of these wildlife problems in the first place.”

Background information

According to the DEEP, the bobcat is the only wild cat found in Connecticut and the most common wild cat in North America.

The status of the animal has changed drastically over the years within Connecticut. Initially, there was a bounty placed on bobcats because they were viewed as a threat to agriculture and game species. That has since changed, when they were reclassified as a protected furbearer in Connecticut with no hunting or trapping seasons back in 1972, according to the DEEP website.

The increase in sightings and reports of vehicles killing bobcats in Connecticut are a result of an increase in their population. 

A bobcat can be identified by its two-to-three times size difference from its distant relative, the house cat, as well as by its short stubby tail. Adult males typically weigh between 18 and 35 pounds and measure from 32 to 37 inches in length. Adult females typically weigh between 15 and 30 pounds and measure from 28 to 32 inches in length.

Typically bobcats can be found in wooded areas or forests, which explains some of their presence in Shelton.

Their diet usually consists of animals ranging from rabbits, to woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, snowshoe hares, white-tailed deer, birds, and even insects. Deer that are taken by bobcats are most likely sick, injured, young, or very old. Bobcats also prey on domestic animals, such as poultry, small pigs, sheep, and goats.

The DEEP posted a fact sheet on bobcats and said the following in regards to their hunting tactics.

“Bobcats are patient hunters, meaning they spend much of their time either sitting or crouching, watching and listening. Once prey is located, a bobcat will stalk within range and ambush its quarry. Bobcats may cache, or cover, their kills with leaves, grass, snow, and even hair from the carcass. They will revisit a carcass until most of it is consumed. Other feline species are known to cache their kills for future consumption.”

For more information on these animals and how to live among them most efficiently visit http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325974&deepNav_GID=1655.

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