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By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of AgricultureNov. 6, 2019
(581 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here).
LITTLE ROCK – As urban and suburban areas expand in Arkansas, the state’s wildlife
— including the bobcat — is learning to adapt to new neighbors, said Becky McPeake,
extension wildlife specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“Bobcats are present in healthy numbers in the state,” she said. “According to the
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, despite popular perceptions of increasing numbers
of bobcats, survey data indicate their populations have been relatively stable.”
Bobcats may seem more numerous because of their proximity to humans and people’s ability
to differentiate them from domestic cats, McPeake said. Bobcats are not to be confused
with mountain lions, which can be up to six feet long and weigh as much as 180 pounds.
Mountain lions, also known as pumas, cougars or panthers, are larger, have no spots
and have long tails. Bobcats, as their name implies, have short “bobbed” tails, spots,
ear tufts and dark shading on their paws. Bobcats can weigh 11-35 pounds and are generally
larger than domestic felines.
“Bobcats are typically shy but have learned to adapt to residential and urban environments,”
McPeake said. “They roam any areas where they might find their prey and water.”
Prey for bobcats includes a variety of small animals, such as mice, rabbits, reptiles
and occasionally a deer. Some suburb-dwelling bobcats also enjoy pets on their menus.
Various news accounts over the last few years in Arkansas have carried photos of bobcats
in the suburbs, captured on security or game cameras.
Bobcats can carry rabies, although it’s uncommon, McPeake said. In April 2019, various
news accounts detailed a bobcat attack on a golfer and a horse. The bobcat was later
captured and tested positive for rabies. There have been no reports of rabid bobcats
in Arkansas, nor any Arkansas reports of bobcat attacks on humans.
However, bobcats can carry what’s called “bobcat fever,” a disease that can affect
house cats, said Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture.
“Bobcat fever is caused by the tick-borne parasite, Cytauxzoon felis, which can be deadly in house cats,” Ward said. “Bobcats serve as a reservoir for the
parasite, so they do not have any symptoms of disease. Cats, however, develop a fever
followed by respiratory distress and death.”
Ward said in house cats, “the symptoms may develop anywhere from five to 20 days after
the tick bite. Once the symptoms start, cats usually die after a few days if not treated.”
The lone star tick is the main carrier of the parasite.
“Unfortunately, the lone star tick has a very robust population in Arkansas due to
our mild climate,” she said.
McPeake has some safety tips for bobcat encounters:
To learn more about managing wildlife on your property, contact your county extension
office, or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow the Cooperative Extension Service on Twitter at @UAEX_edu. Follow the Agricultural Experiment Station on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org