By THERESA HOGUE
No danger to humans, says biologist
A bobcat caused a bit of a stir in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park (formerly Walnut Park) Friday afternoon as he leisurely enjoyed the autumn weather just yards from an active playground area.
The cat was wandering not far from Witham Village Apartments, where a possible cougar sighting was reported a few days earlier.
A park visitor, who called the Corvallis Police Department, spotted the bobcat. Sgt. Joel Goodwin responded, and said he was able to walk right behind the bobcat, calling and clapping. The small wildcat basically ignored him.
“We are, I suppose, in his territory,” Goodwin said.
One passerby said she’d seen the bobcat several times in the park, and seemed surprised that it warranted a police response.
While Goodwin wasn’t worried about the children playing nearby, he kept bicyclists and onlookers at a distance, in the hopes that the bobcat would remain in sight and could be trapped by representatives of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
However, it was a tasty bird that finally encouraged the bobcat to jump back into a patch of nearby blackberries, where he could be heard thrashing about for a brief period.
“I wish I could see him,” said a bicyclist when she heard she’d missed the bobcat’s bold but brief appearance.
Biologist Ray Fiori of E.E. Wilson Wildlife Refuge arrived about a half an hour later, and he and Goodwin examined the spot where the bobcat had last been seen.
“From my experience, there are no human issues,” Fiori said, of the relatively safety of people living near bobcats. The animals live mainly on small mammals, and are not known to attack humans.
The park bobcat was unusually bold, but that did not indicate sickness or danger, Fiori said.
“There’s so much activity around here, and the cat grew up in the park, so he’s used to the activity,” he said, which means it wasn’t as shy as most bobcats are known to be.
While the bobcat might eventually be trapped and relocated, it was providing more of a spectator sport than a threat to the groups barbecuing and playing in the park.
A perceived cougar sighting also was reported in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in late June, and fliers were posted there to warn residents. Bobcats are known to prowl the park and snack on squirrels and other critters.
Those who spot bobcats or other wild animals near residential areas should call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. If the animal appears to be aggressive or injured, call the police department.