Sunday, May 20, 2012

People who should know better

This past week someone in Manchester, NH spotted and took a video of a bobcat in their back yard.

I looked at the video and it actually IS a bobcat [these sitings often turn out to be house cats with bobtails].

So what did officials do?  

Totally freak out and over-react!  An animal control office [target of this rant] said it's hard to tell from the video but it might be a mountain lion.

[hysterical laughter]

um, no.  The video may be out of focus but it is very, very clearly a bobcat.

Why, oh, why, does an animal control officer know NOTHING about local wild animals?  You'd think that would be an important component of the job. 

But this is a common problem. Animal control knows how to deal with dogs and cats (hopefully) but wildlife is usually a complete mystery to them.

I don't get it.

 File:Mountain lion.jpg
 photo from USDA [why does the department of agriculture take photos of mountain lions?]

The mountain lion has been extirpated from the East Coat [extirpated means the local population has been hunted to extinction but there are still mountain lions in the mid-west, the west and Florida].  There are often reports of mountain lions but they are almost always not supported by evidence or additional sighting and the ones with pictures or other evidence usually turn out to be housecats.  Yes.  Really.

[There was even an instance in California (where mountain lions DO occur regularly) where a police officer shot and killed a "mountain lion" and then got sued by the housecats owner.  Yes, it was a domestic cat.]

A mountain lion (or cougar) is about the size of a grown human.  If the first words out of your mouth are not something like "I can't believe how freaking BIG that was" then it wasn't a mountain lion.

The rare occurrence of real, honest to goodness mountain lions are often escaped or released captive animals.  On very rare occasions they find evidence of a cat moving from the West or mid-west hundreds or thousands of miles to the East (one case in Connecticut was of a cat that genetics showed had been born in South Dakota and had migrated 2000 miles!).

The best website for more information?  The Cougar Network.

And now for a gratuitous photo of my (adopted) bobcat - Reno.  She lives at Conservators' Center, a carnivore sanctuary in NC for former "pet" and "show" exotic carnivores.

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