Instead of a mountain lion as first thought, an urban wildlife biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife said the animal that attacked and killed a small dog at the Dominion in May was a bobcat, the most abundant wildcat in the U.S.
“Bobcats also are very common in urban areas because they’re so adaptable,” said Jessica Alderson, who investigated the case.
Alderson said she made the determination after she examined and measured the bite marks on the dog.
“The dog was a very small dog and was barking at the cat. It was not inside a fenced area and this house actually backed up onto a ravine,” Alderson said.
She said it’s possible the bobcat had been pursuing prey when it encountered the pet. It has not been captured.
Alderson said although they rarely attack small pets, “If that bobcat felt threatened, they’re going to defend themselves.”
She said if they’re confronted by a hissing cat or barking dog, “Their first response is going to be to take off running.”
Alderson also said they react the same way with people.
Alderson said Parks & Wildlife suggests pet-owners do not leave food outdoors that will attract the mice and rats that bobcats prefer. She said they also catch rabbits and even lizards.
Alderson said the habitat of the bobcat’s small prey is often disturbed by construction and urban encroachment, so they’re on the move.
“So therefore, the bobcats are out trying to catch easy prey,” Alderson said.
She said that’s probably why some communities outside Loop 1604 are reporting bobcat sightings.
“As long as they’re acting normal, it’s nothing to be concerned about,” Alderson said.
She also said she had not heard of any cases of rabies among bobcats.
Alderson said bobcats are typically reclusive, coming out to hunt in the early morning and around sunset.
She said if people are lucky enough to see one in the wild or in their backyard, “With any wild animal, it’s always best to keep your distance and let it go on its way.”
Alderson said the agency also recommends to scare off a bobcat, “Yell and wave your arms in the air, throw something or spray it with water.”