(Update: Second bobcat released into the wild)
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday safely released a young male bobcat back into the wild, days after his possible sibling was found inside an occupied Eugene school and later euthanized.
Based on its teeth, this bobcat was at least six months old, the agency said. The bobcat was released in forested habitat on BLM land in Lane County.
ODFW said its 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, ODFW said.
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 into the wild. ”
Its likely sibling was found inside the Oak Hill School in Eugene earlier in the week, ODFW said.
Bobcats, like most wildlife, will generally avoid people and will not enter structures, the agency said.
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’s Office.
The 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, ODFW said, ” 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, the 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.
ODFW had considered the release or placement at an accredited wildlife facility for long-term captivity.
If the juvenile bobcat had been found to be diseased or otherwise unhealthy, it might have been humanely euthanized.
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, ODFW said.