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DEEP sees an increase of bobcats in cities

Wildlife experts with The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection say two bobcats were recently spotted in Hartford.

HARTFORD, Conn. — If you live in a city-like area of Connecticut, do not be surprised the next time a bobcat casually walks by.

Wildlife experts said they have found a more comfortable lifestyle in urban areas.

Recently, two bobcats have been spotted in Hartford, specifically at Keney Park and by the Connecticut Historical Society. 

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According to Jason Hawley, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), bobcats are not just in Hartford.

They have also been spotted in New Haven, Bridgeport and New London. 

"There’s a lot of prey items there that bobcats use regularly. Squirrels, cotton tail rabbits, possums, raccoons," said Hawley. 

Hawley said there are 1,500 to 2,000 bobcats in the state. 

Only a dozen of them are collared which means experts can track their every move.

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The good news is Hawley said there is no reason to be scared if a bobcat is spotted. Most times, they mind their own business just looking for their next prey. 

 "Just enjoy the sighting, right? They’re a really elusive, cool animal to see. Obviously, keep your distance," added Hawley. 

Despite being low-key animals, there have been up to five bobcat attacks over the last 15 years where they have all tested positive for rabies. 

The chances of that, Hawley said, is low. 

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"Rabies is rare in bobcats because they’re pretty solitary, so they’re not interacting with other animals a lot – and it’s usually fairly obvious. Rabies is a neurological disease and usually the animal’s emancipated, skinny, kind of displaying repetitive behavior," added Hawley. 

Working collaboratively in studying bobcats' travels is Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse at the University of Connecticut. 

She said the number of bobcats in cities could increase. 

"We’re definitely finding reproduction in urban places. They will move their kits around from place to place since sometimes the females will put them in features of the landscape that we would consider human – they’ll leave them in sheds occasionally," said Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse of UConn's Department of Natural Resources & the Environment. 

Another important tip to keep in mind: bobcats are not like stray cats. 

Avoid feeding it food and your best bet is to admire from afar and leave it alone. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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