Possibly rabid bobcat attacks dog in NJ backyard — latest sighting in same town
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP (Morris) — They’re endangered and elusive. But for the second time in a week, residents of this township have had distressing encounters with bobcats.
A day after a bobcat snuck into a home, forcing a mother and her two children to call police from their bathroom, police and wildlife officials had to trap and kill a possibly rabid bobcat that had attacked a dog.
It was not clear whether the cat that was captured Thursday in a Naughright Road barn was the same cat that spent an hour inside the East Mill Road house on Wednesday. The indoor visitor eventually fled into the woods without incident.
Police said the cat they found in a family’s living room did not appear sick or rabid. The homeowner took pictures of it through a window as the cat looked out from inside.
But the cat that officials captured a day later was emaciated, hostile and hissing, Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said Friday.
“Common sense probably suggests it was [the same bobcat], but we don’t know that. It’s not certain,” Hajna said.
The trapped bobcat’s carcass was taken to a lab for testing. State environmental officials do not expect lab results by Friday.
Hajna says it’s “practically unheard of for a bobcat to enter a house” because they are solitary and take care not to be seen.
For that reason, state officials have no estimate of how many bobcats live in the Garden State. But sightings of the endangered wild cat in recent years suggests that their population has rebounded since the 1970s, when the state relocated bobcats into the state. Bobcats are important for the ecosystem because they help keep populations of smaller animals like rodents in check.
Township police were called 5:40 p.m. Thursday by a Coleman Road resident who said their dog had been attacked and injured in their backyard. The dog was taken to a veterinarian.
Two officers tracked the cat to a barn, where a Fish and Wildlife officer captured it with a snare.
Hajna said rabies do not usually spread from one cat to another. If the bobcat had rabies, it may have caught it from a raccoon, skunk or another animal it preyed on.
Bobcats are usually about 2 feet tall and can weigh as much as 35 pounds. Their territory is mostly confined to the northwestern part of the state.
Hajna said any glimpse of a bobcat will likely be fleeting.
"If it is hanging around, that would be unusual behavior. It would probably be best to reach out to local animal control."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.