Dallas Animal Wildlife personnel declares animal harmless
t was just a normal Thursday morning when junior Tucker Robertson and senior Justin McCray sat down at their usual table in the cafeteria. It stopped being so normal when a bobcat came around the corner, just outside the window.
“I went into the south dining room to look at [the bobcat] some more, [when] Justin tried to scare me,” Robertson said. “He thought it was funny, but I didn’t find that too humorous.”
Robertson believes they were the first ones to see the big cat, but on Aug. 31, the day before, faculty and staff were alerted of a bobcat via an email sent by Head of Security Jody Trumble. The email contained information on what to do if they encountered the bobcat, who Trumble named as Bob.
According to Trumble, the Dallas Animal Wildlife personnel came to campus and said that the bobcat was not a threat to humans and no action would be taken by them regarding the animal.
“The wildlife specialist that came out said that ESD was doing everything right regarding the situation by having a predator proof chicken coop, secure dumpsters and ensuring no food items were left out,” Trumble said.
Bob was first spotted on Eagle Family Way, in front of Fr. Nate Bostian’s house.
“We saw it right before we started fixing dinner, about 6:30 p.m.,” Bostian said. “We first thought it was a regular cat. Then a very large regular cat. We watched for a while, as Bob looked around for prey to hunt. It was about 10 minutes. After that, I sent the pics to Officer Trumble in case they were a danger to campus.”
While a bobcat might seem like a dangerous animal to have on the school grounds, according to Trumble, it actually means that the local ecosystem is thriving. Their presence helps to keep the population of smaller animals in check. Because of this thriving ecosystem, a bobcat is not the only wild animal that has been seen on campus in recent years.
“The campus has had a beautiful red tailed hawk around pretty regularly over the past couple of years,” Trumble said. “We also see the occasional coyote and during the Covid lockdown several bobcats were observed moving around the campus. Red tailed hawks, coyotes and bobcats all thrive on small animals such as mice, snakes and rabbits.”
Middle school science teacher and fifth grade dean Ellen Neill, who is the main caretaker of the school’s chickens, became worried about the chickens after a bobcat killed a mother goose around the time of graduation last year. This resulted in the goose family only having one baby this year.
“I went out [to the coop] and made sure it was very secure,” Neill said. “A bobcat is different from a raccoon or a type of animal that can dig underneath, but if the door was open they would have chicken for dinner. We put extra wire on the walls and locks on the doors. I made sure it was very secure.”
Geese are not the only animals on Bob’s menu. Bobcats are carnivores and eat many small animals, including birds, lizards, rodents, snakes and some large animals such as deer.
“Out by the chicken coop and in [the] garden area, there are a lot of baby rabbits,” Neill said. “So, the population has gone down. We found a couple underneath the coop, sort of hiding. So, that makes us aware that he’s out there. ”
It may seem unusual to have such an animal this far from the countryside, but according to wfaa.com, the bobcat population has been increasing in the metroplex since 2012. Junior Frazer Knodel has seen bobcats in his backyard.
“In 2018 [I had] a special breed of house chicken, which I imported from overseas at a young age,” Knodel said. “They were like pets to me, and we were very close, like family. One day, I let them out before I went to school, and a bobcat jumped over my fence and ate and killed them. I was devastated, the only thing that kept me going was knowing that they put up a good fight.”
Neill also believes that due to the summer heat, bobcats have begun to come into the city more in search of water, where the quarry would be a great place for Bob. The fifth grade class often goes out to the quarry during recess, meaning they would be in Bob’s territory.
“[The fifth graders and I] talked about [Bob],” Neill said. “One day they said, ‘We think we heard the bobcat back there,’ but it wasn’t. They aren’t going to come around when there are a lot of people around.”