Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bobcat strays into Western N.Y. neighborhood

Canandaigua: Bobcat strays into Holiday Harbour area

By Philip Anselmo, staff writer
Daily Messenger
Posted Jul 16, 2009 @ 10:04 AM

Canandaigua, N.Y. — Residents of Holiday Harbour may have spotted a new neighbor of the feline persuasion prowling their neighborhood earlier this week. But it wasn’t a cougar.

“It’s a bobcat,” said Steve Rose, superintendent of maintenance for the waterfront condominium community. “There are three different people who have seen it. It hasn’t tried to attack anybody.”Bobcats are not unfamiliar to the area.

“They’re known to be around,” said Michael Wasilco, regional wildlife manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The further you get into the Southern Tier and the mountains, “there are plenty of bobcat,” he said. Still, they’re a rare sight to behold, especially in a residential neighborhood.

“The chances of someone spotting a bobcat are pretty slim,” said Wasilco. “I’ve only ever seen one in the wild, and it was just a glimpse. If you get a good look, you should consider yourself fortunate.”

Folks who spotted the cat in Holiday Harbour certainly considered themselves fortunate, and a little frightened, too.

“They said it’s magnificent looking,” said Rose. “They said it was beautiful.”

The bobcat was first spotted near the tennis courts. A woman was out walking her dog, when both owner and pooch saw the big cat as it sort of crouched down and “made a screeching noise,” said Rose.

“It came around from the tennis court, in the bushes there,” he said. “The dog saw it — and she’s got a pretty good-sized dog — and it saw the dog and went kind of, ‘Whoa.’”

It was later spotted by different people heading toward Sucker Brook at dusk, and again in the morning nearby Yacht Club Cove.

Rose didn’t see the bobcat during its brief lakefront visit — he has only ever seen one at the zoo. But he has seen plenty else in his time at Holiday Harbour. Wild animals frequently make their way down near the lake, he said.

“I see fox,” he said. “They come up walking across West Lake Road. I see deer, bear, geese, beaver. You name it, we’ve had it.”

For the most part, people shouldn’t have anything to fear if they spot a bobcat, said Wasilco. They are “generally afraid of people” and “pretty secretive.”

“But like any other wild animal, I wouldn’t try to corner it,” he said. “And like anything else, it may potentially have rabies, so if they’re not acting normal, I would keep my distance.”

That’s if you ever spot one.

For a long time, bobcat were absent from the state.

“Western New York had all been logged off a couple hundred years ago, which pretty much wiped out the bobcat,” said Wasilco. Much of the forest area has since returned, “so they’re showing back up. Same with the bears.”

A bobcats should be pretty easy to differentiate from a cougar, which are believed to still be absent from the state, said Wasilco.

Bobcats weigh on average about 28 pounds and are around 20 inches tall at the shoulder. Their body is about three feet long with a short, “bob” tail and long legs. Their thick fur is usually a tan color with darker spots. They are closely related to the lynx, which has much larger paws, a slightly smaller body and a longer tuft of hair at the tip of the ear. Lynx are much less common.

Cougars weigh on average 140 pounds — and can get up to 225 pounds — and may be between 4 and 7 feet in length, plus a 3-foot-long tail. They’re around three feet high at the shoulder — “at least the size of a deer,” said Wasilco. Their short fur is usually a tan to brownish red-orange color.

]The cougar is also known as puma, mountain lion, panther and catamount, depending on the region.

http://www.mpnnow.com/news/x488841793/Canandaigua-Bobcat-strays-into-Holiday-Harbour-area

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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