Sunday, July 08, 2007

Heavy Texas rains drive bobcats into town

Bud Gillett
clock Jul 6, 2007 6:22 pm US/Central

(CBS 11 News) McKINNEY The near-record rainfall has forced wildlife out into the open.

Photographs taken just last week dramatically show at least one bobcat overcoming its instinctive fear of humans and running around a McKinney neighborhood.

Officials at McKinney Animal Control said that they have bobcat sightings throughout the entire city because of the area's extensive greenbelts. The bobcats use fallen trees to cross creeks and reach neighborhoods looking for food.

The average male bobcat weighs roughly 30 to 35 pounds.

"I don't think a lot of people are aware there is an issue," said resident Harriett Harron. She and some others are now worried for the safety of small pets.

"Everyday I follow him around," Harron said of her small dog, Titan. "If he's in the yard, I come out in the yard with him. I never allow him in and out of the house by himself. There's no doggy door."

Jim Dunlap, a biologist at Holifield Nature Center, said that Harron's actions are probably a wise precaution. "This animal is footloose and fancy free," he said of the bobcats. "If there's no humans around, there could be a problem."

Dunlap has a bobcat at the nature center. He said that bobcats do not attack humans, or even larger pets. "Animals are known for, instinctually not getting into a fight they can't win. If it's bigger than them, or as big, no."

De St. Aubin of McKinney Animal Control said, "They're getting used to being around people. Most people's reaction to them is to run into the house, and they need to be trying to scare them off and maintain the fear of people."

According to residents, the bobcats mostly come out during dusk.

Officials suggest that residents do not keep attractive nuisances in the backyard, including pet food and garbage.

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