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ODFW evaluating health of second juvenile bobcat found at school

SALEM, Ore. — ODFW wildlife veterinarians are evaluating the condition of a juvenile bobcat for possible release to the wild or to an accredited captive facility.

This juvenile bobcat is likely the sibling of a second bobcat that was euthanized after being found inside the Oak Hill School in Eugene earlier in the week.

Bobcats, like most wildlife, will generally avoid people and will not enter structures. The first bobcat entered the school while students and staff were still present before school officials discovered it, trapped it in a room and called the Lane County Sheriff. The sheriff deputies captured the bobcat and transferred to the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division. Based on the abnormal behavior of the juvenile bobcat and in consultation with ODFW wildlife biologists, OSP euthanized the bobcat.

Bobcats are usually not considered a human safety threat due to their small size. However, this bobcat’s abnormal behavior led wildlife biologists to consider it a public nuisance and potential human safety threat were it to claw or bite someone.

The following day, a second bobcat was discovered outside the school building by school staff. The bobcat was captured by school staff and eventually transported to ODFW’s Wildlife Health Lab for evaluation.

Options for the bobcat include release back into the wild or placement at an accredited wildlife facility for long-term captivity. If the juvenile bobcat is found to be diseased or otherwise unhealthy, it may be humanely euthanized. ODFW wildlife veterinarians will evaluate the health and behavior of the bobcat to make a decision on what happens to it.

Wildlife biologists suspect these two juvenile bobcats may have been orphaned or abandoned, which is the reason they were hanging around school grounds. Bobcats are typically born April-June and stay with their mother until February. This bobcat appears to have been born earlier than April due to its larger size.

Bobcats are territorial and solitary animals. Oregon has a healthy bobcat population.

UPDATE: Juvenile bobcat released to the wild

ODFW safely released a male juvenile bobcat back into the wild today. Based on its teeth, this bobcat was at least six months old. The bobcat was released in forested habitat on BLM land in Lane County.

ODFW’s physical evaluation of the bobcat showed it to be healthy. The bobcat had no signs of active infection or injury. Blood tests and X-rays also did not reveal any health issues.

It is not known if the two bobcats found earlier in the week at Oak Hill School were orphaned, abandoned by their mother, or naturally dispersing. Young bobcats may start to disperse away from their mother as early as six months old, so a bobcat born early in the spring could naturally disperse in the fall.

“This bobcat is in the age range when bobcats naturally strike out on their own,” said Dr. Julia Burco, ODFW wildlife veterinarian. “It was in good physical condition and exhibited normal behavior for a juvenile bobcat, which made it a good candidate for release back to the wild.”