Bobcats making an appearance in Long Beach
By Lindy Sholes
A widespread video of a rabid bobcat attacking a woman in her driveway in North Carolina has some Long Beach residents on edge about wildlife in the area, as bobcat sightings have been on the rise with the coming of spring and the clearing of land for development.
Gavin Johnson, who lives near South Seal Avenue, recently encountered two bobcats late at night when he was helping a neighbor retrieve something from her car. He said he noticed them, initially thinking they were house cats, as they were about to cross the road. He realized they were bobcats when he saw the tails and the wild look in their eyes. When they saw him there, they changed course and started charging him. Johnson pushed himself and his friend into the car and shut the door.
“We waited a good fifteen to twenty minutes after that, because I wasn’t sure where they went after that,” he said. “I didn’t know if they were under the car or where they had gone.”
Johnson said he and his friend had heard cats before he saw them but didn’t think much of it, because there are a lot of outside cats in that area.
“They were literally within two or three feet of us,” he said. “They were probably a little shorter than knee high and just very bulky. They were doing their own thing and then immediately darted towards us.”
Stacey Pelkey, who also lives near South Seal, said her German Shepherd was chased by a bobcat around 8:30 p.m. one night.
“She ran back like she had [seen] a ghost,” she said.
Vancleave resident Missy Dubuisson is the founder and director of Wild at Heart Rescue, which specializes in bobcat and other wildlife rescues along the Coast. She said bobcats will get defensive if someone gets too close to their dens, especially if there are babies.
“Springtime is more prevalent, as the mothers are having their young,” she said. “They are seen mostly during the day, as they need more calories to continue their milk supply [for] demanding babies…We bulldoze their homes, and, of course, they’re going to be in residential areas - because they were there first.”
Dubuisson said residents should not worry about rabies, as it has not been reported in Mississippi since the 1950s, except for a few bats. She said people should be more concerned about protecting their small pets, because coyotes have been reported in the area, and predators such as owls and hawks can also strike from above.
“Being a responsible pet owner means protecting your pets,” she said. “It goes for any circumstance. You wouldn’t just let them go run in the road; make sure they’re on a leash or supervised. In a fenced yard, I recommend that you are out and supervise the small ones. Be aware of your surroundings and predators that do look for small prey.”
Long Beach resident Misty Hopkins recently posted to the Residents of Long Beach Facebook page that she had to bury a small dog that had been mauled in her driveway. She said there was evidence that whatever got the dog was very large. She hasn’t had any luck locating the dog’s owner.
“After finding the poor fella, we realized all the marks we saw up and down the driveway meant he did put up a *** of a fight, but sadly didn’t make it…PLEASE DON'T LEAVE YOUR FUR BABIES OUT AT NIGHT!!” the post reads. She added that the puncture wound was over half an inch in diameter, and the gashes on the dog’s neck and back were nearly two inches deep.
Hopkins, who lives near the Beatline and Pineville intersection, said she has seen bobcats and coyotes on her property, so she takes extra precautions with her own pets. She said her dog is leash walked and only goes out after dark, when she or her husband can supervise.
Should you find yourself in a dangerous situation with wildlife, Dubuisson recommends making lots of noise and trying to appear bigger. If you think you have a bobcat or some other predatory wildlife near your home, Dubuisson said to point a strobe light toward the suspected area and play a radio.
“They will self evict quickly,” she said. “But just remember, there’s not many places for them to go. If they are not bothering you, just leave them be. Pretend like they’re not there.”
She said reporting sightings will only cause panic. Most of the time, the wildlife will mind its own business, but human activity affects their way of life significantly.
“Humans impact wildlife in everything we do,” she said. “Let’s be more aware of their surroundings. If we do so, we coexist beautifully.”
For more information on Wild at Heart Rescue, visit their Facebook page.