For about six weeks, the San Benito County branch of Wildlife Emergency Services (WES) has been receiving calls about a bobcat wandering through yards in the Ridgemark Golf and Country Club neighborhoods. Deanna Barth, who heads up wildlife rescue efforts in Hollister, said the reports started coming on June 25.
Reports ranged from mere observations, to stories of the animal drinking water from a pool. These sightings didn’t seem out of the ordinary, and Barth responded by educating the reporting party on methods of hazing to scare the wild cat off — which works on truly wild animals —but then the reports started to get peculiar.
One person reported the cat entered their home through open sliding glass doors while they were showering. They were understandably surprised to see it sitting in their bedroom. Another party described it following them and at one point “leg-rubbing," as cats will do — but not wild bobcats.
Once the group received these reports of the bobcat acting as if it were tamed, they organized a capture effort. It was as much for the cat’s safety as it was for the residents —most of the reporting parties were unsettled by their encounter, and it was only a matter of time before something bad happened.
On Friday night, Aug. 18, Barth headed rescue efforts along with the group's founder, Rebecca Dmytryk.
After canvassing the area where the cat was most often encountered, they walked the south service road. Just after sunset, they spotted the bobcat in the adjacent field, peeking out of the tall grass. Then they did something these wildlife capture experts never do when pursuing injured or ill bobcats —they started calling “kitty, kitty, kitty!”
Sure enough, the bobcat responded. Barth instinctively walked away, leading into one of the backyards it frequented. The cat bounded into the yard, and then out the side yard to the street where they had parked the rescue vehicle.
Dmytryk was there with options of treats to possibly tempt the cat into a carrier.
The cat responded by approaching and sniffing the offerings, but became quickly disinterested. It walked off toward the golf course with Barth trailing after it.
Finally, on a walking path, Barth used a cat toy on a string to get the cat's attention focused while Dmytryk stood in wait with a large hoop net. The capture and containment went smoothly.
The cat will be observed for a few days while possible placement in a sanctuary is looked into.
In the meantime, the group is seeking information on the cat’s history, when and where it was first observed by residents, hoping to find where it came one. Anyone with information or who had an encounter with the email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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