SOUTHINGTON - Bobcats have been reported in the area recently and, according to Animal Control Officer Joshua Karabin, they are becoming more common.
Many people have posted to the Southington Talks Facebook group, where they’re sharing their information about their sightings.
“Usually once a week, someone will call and report seeing them in their yard,” said Karabin. “Their population seems to be increasing and residents often call me panicked because they mistake them for mountain lions.”
Karabin said that, while bobcats are naturally shy around humans, they see small dogs or cats as prey. Residents are advised to keep their pets indoors from dusk to dawn.
No attacks by bobcats on local pets have been reported.
“Bobcats are on average about three times the size of a house cat,” said Karabin. “The females usually weigh about 15 pounds and the males can weigh 30 pounds or more. Their typical prey is rabbits, mice, voles, chipmunks and squirrels. If they do come into neighborhoods, they will usually keep their distance. They tend to hang out in swampy areas with thick underbrush. They don’t like to come out into big open forests.”
Karabin said bobcats can be scared off by clapping, whistling or yelling.
Residents with bird feeders can avoid attracting them by cleaning under them, which helps prevent the kind of animals bobcats eat from coming into the yard.
“It is illegal to have one in your possession as a pet, and it is illegal to harm one intentionally,” Karabin said. “In the ‘70s, a ban was put into place for hunting and trapping them because they were almost extinct. Now, they seem to have rebounded.”
Karabin noted that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is studying bobcats. Residents who see them are asked to call 860-424-3000.
“This will help them to determine what the current bobcat population in the state is,” he said.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.