SOUTH OF COVINGTON, La. – The view from this backyard, south of Covington, shows the beauty of the Tchefuncte River marsh and all that brings.
“I got one right here in this trap, and I'm going to remove the camouflage from it,” says “Danger Dave” Milliken, a wild animal expert hired by homeowners in this neighborhood to remove the predators living among them.
Milliken has successfully trapped four wild Louisiana bobcats in this area over a three-week period.
“Not your average kitty cat,” Milliken said.
He and his wife carefully carry the cat, a medium-sized bobcat, out of the yard. It's roughly twice the size of a house cat, maybe 20 or 25 pounds.
Milliken believes this bobcat is 2 years old. Milliken got involved in this neighborhood off of Hwy. 21 after neighbors noticed small pets disappearing.
Too many pets were going missing in the neighborhood, so about a month ago, the neighborhood association called “Danger Dave” and he found the problem.
“The bobcats are definitely snatching up the pets right now,” he said.
He set out motion detection cameras and quickly realized the problem.
“I was able to find some prints and some droppings right away,” Milliken said.
He then set out well-disguised traps in a marshy backyard and caught four of these amazing nocturnal creatures.
“The skill of a bobcat is no different than that of a tiger or a lion, it's just a smaller version,” he said.
According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, there are hundreds of bobcats just like this one living right now in St. Tammany parish.
“Bobcats over here are an everyday occurrence,” said Keith Francis, a senior Wildlife and Fisheries agent.
Francis said bobcat populations have been growing since Hurricane Katrina.
“We're right along the Tchefuncte River, which is a main highway for a lot of animals,” “Danger Dave” Milliken said. “The more pristine, the more beautiful the area of Louisiana, the more animals you're going to have, so there could be tons of them. And I'm not, by any means, trying to take all of them out. I want to take them away from the close proximity to humans, that's why I get called out.”
For now, Milliken is bringing the cats, well-secured, back to his place. His goal is to eventually find a place to release them back into the wild, and he says few people realize they're so common.
“The reaction I get from people when I start pulling bobcats or predatory species from out of their neighborhood is that they're shocked,” he said. “They just can't even believe that these animals are right there in their backyards, right there on their walking paths many times.”
Yet given their numbers, this wild, predatory animal has learned to live among us without drawing much attention.
Eyewitness News talked with several state and federal wildlife agents in St. Tammany. None had ever heard of a bobcat-human encounter.
“They're going to feed on rabbits, squirrels, rats, birds, fish,” Francis said, “and I think we have plenty of that.”
“Bobcats are going to be more afraid of humans, especially a full grown adult,” Milliken added.
The bobcat population is so high across the state that Wildlife and Fisheries agents now allows hunters to take one bobcat a year.
“There's no way you can take all of them out, and nobody really wants to,” Milliken said. “You just have to get a few of them out every so often. That's with almost any Louisiana animal.”