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Wildlife Expert Says Bobcats Are Common, Yet Elusive

Residents Surprised to Find Animal in Their Own Backyard

February 3, 2013
By SHELLEY HANSON Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - While looking out his bedroom window one spring day, Gracie Drive resident Bob Frasnelli saw what appeared to be a large house cat standing on his lawn.

After taking a closer look, he grabbed his camera to capture an image of the feline, which turned out to be the elusive, yet common, bobcat.

"I looked out the window and it looked like a strange cat," Frasnelli said. "It looked like it saw something in the yard, like it was stalking something."

Article Photos

Photo by Bob Frasnelli
Wheeling resident Bob Frasnelli took this photo of a bobcat through his bedroom window last spring.

Frasnelli's wife, Rose, said she helped identify the cat because one of her co-workers has one stuffed in his office.

West Virginia does have a hunting season for the cats, according to the state Division of Wildlife website.

"We see all kinds of animals all the time - deer and turkey, but never anything like that," she said, noting the couple lives in a wooded area of Ohio County off GC&P Road.

Frasnelli said he stood at the window for about five minutes watching and taking photos of the bobcat. He left the room for a moment and when he came back to see if it still was there, it was gone.

Cameron resident Scott Shalaway, a wildlife biologist, said bobcats are more common than people realize but are not seen very often.

The cats, he said, try to avoid people. Shalaway said he has never had the opportunity to get a good look at one himself, though he spends a lot of time outdoors.

He said the cats are not normally a danger to humans, but they can kill small pets such as cats and dogs. Small children and babies should not be left alone in such a wooded area.

"A huge one would weigh 35 pounds. They usually weigh 20 to 25 pounds. They are virtually no threat to humans. They will take cats or small dogs. Bigger dogs would probably do OK," Shalaway said.

He noted bobcats live across the country and cover a lot of ground when hunting. The cats hunt small prey such as rabbits, mice and birds.

"It's not a cause for concern. I wouldn't be concerned unless I had small children," Shalaway said.

A bobcat's markings include spots and stripes and it has distinctive white spots on the backs of its black ears that appear almost like eyes.

The bobcat in Frasnelli's photo appears to be younger but still has the unmistakable ear spot markings.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, bobcats are crepuscular, which means they move during the late afternoon through early evening and a few hours during the morning. The Ohio DNR also lists the cats as a ''threatened'' species.

Frasnelli said the bobcat appeared in the late afternoon that spring day, but he has not seen one since.

''It was interesting to see. ... When I zoomed in on it, I was amazed. I had never seen one before. It's nice when you live out away from the city,'' he added.

 
 
 

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