USF area bobcats pose little threat to humans

Word spread quickly Thursday that a bobcat had been sighted on campus.

While the member of the big cat family may seem more exotic than the more ubiquitous squirrels, ducks and frogs on campus, the sighting isnt abnormal, an official from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said.

Lt. Charlotte Domingo said a call reporting a bobcat sighting was made to University Police (UP) at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Other sightings were as early as last Monday.

None of our officers had seen it and since its not really a police matter, we turned it over to Environmental Health and Safety, she said.

While Domingo said she cannot remember past reports of bobcat sightings on campus, she said its not the first time that wild animals have come traipsing on campus.

I dont remember a bobcat specifically, but through the years theres been any number of animals seen on campus anything from deer and foxes to alligators, she said. So its not unusual for us to have some wildlife come looking here on campus.

But photos of bobcats in peoples backyards often mistaken for panthers are turned in weekly to the FWC.

The FWC official said bobcats arent a danger to humans and eat squirrels, rabbits, small birds, reptiles and a variety of lizards, allowing them to survive easily in urban areas.

There have been 67 attacks on people by bobcats recorded since the 1950s and each of them have been rabid.

University spokesman Michael Hoad said if you see something like a bobcat on campus to call University Police right away by dialing 911.

Were not going to be able to set up a fence around the university so that wild animals cant come on campus, he said. Theres always going to be bobcats. I took a very good photo of one that was in my backyard a few weeks ago.