ST. GEORGE — A bobcat was shot at a St. George residence Sunday night after the homeowner’s attempts to chase it out of their yard reportedly failed.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Sunday, a homeowner stepped outside to find a bobcat chasing one his ducks in his backyard, St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin said. Once the animal noticed the homeowner, it jumped onto a retaining wall.
The homeowner made several attempts to scare the bobcat away, which had no effect on the animal as it remained perched on the wall.
Fearing the animal would “kill his animals or other animals in the neighborhood,” the resident then shot the animal with a .22 caliber rifle, causing it to fall off the other side of the fence where it was then put down, Atkin said.
According to police, the homeowner used great care during the events that unfolded and was observant of his surroundings, making sure his actions would not endanger any persons or other animals before firing the weapon.
After speaking to the homeowner and witnesses at the scene, officers determined that, given the circumstances, the homeowner addressed the situation with care and fired only after his attempts to scare the animal away had failed.
The statements of the homeowner were supported by a neighbor, who told police they observed the bobcat earlier in the day. Similar to their neighbor’s experience, they reported that even after banging pots and pans together in an attempt to scare the animal away, it remained and “seemed to be focused on the neighbor’s animals in the backyard,” Atkin said.
The homeowner was not cited for shooting the animal.
When the incident was reported to the Division of Wildlife Resources, conservation officers responded to determine the circumstances of the animal being killed, Phil Tuttle, a DWR outreach manager, said.
“We got a report of a bobcat shooting after it was chasing a duck in a backyard,” he said. Adding that the animal had already been shot and disposed of by the time it was reported to the agency.
While Tuttle said he was unable to comment any further on the details of the situation, he did say that Sunday’s incident was anything but typical.
“First, it’s very rare to have a bobcat sighting in St. George,” Tuttle said. “Then, to have a bobcat chasing a duck in a St. George backyard is even more rare — so it would be difficult to make a judgment here.”
The elusive Lynx Rufus
Bobcats are fairly common throughout Utah but are rarely seen by humans due to the secretive nature of the species, according to the DWR.
They can typically be found in deserts, mountains and numerous other types of habitats. These animals prefer areas with thick undergrowth.
Bobcats are nocturnal, so they are most active at night and seek shelter in rocks, trees or hollow logs when inactive and do their best hunting in low-light conditions. They are also solitary creatures, except when breeding.
Bobcats generally feed on small mammals, particularly rabbits and hares, and are easily distinguished from Utah’s two other native species — the mountain lion, with a much longer tail and larger body, and the lynx, which has conspicuous ear tufts and a short tail.
In Utah, bobcats are protected as fur-bearing animals and fall under the management and protection of the DWR, which is why the incident in St. George was reported to the agency.
Sightings of big cats should be reported to the DWR, which has experts available who can respond with tranquilizers and return the animal to its mountain habitat.
According to a previous St. George News interview with DWR Predator Specialist Clint Mecham, while most big cats are fearful of people, if one appears to be stalking or tracking a person, it is advised to do the following:
- Do not approach the animal.
- Do not run.
- Make noise.
- Make yourself look as big as possible.
- Throw rocks or sticks at the animal.
- Do not turn your back to the animal.
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