Bobcat sightings in St. Tammany stir conversation, concern

One of the reasons wildlife experts say people are seeing so much activity like this is because it's breeding season. But a bigger reason, especially in St. Tammany, is because of so much development that's pushing wildlife out of its habitat.

ST. TAMMANY-  The Avacatos moved to the Northshore four years ago from Metairie to be closer to family and nature.

"My wife loves wildlife, and she gets such a big thrill with seeing the deer," said Mike Avacato.

They've also spotted fox and even a turkey.  But recently, what they've been seeing in their Lacombe yard has been an unwelcome kind of wildlife.

"I had a couple of pictures from that camera that showed a blur, and it looked like a bobcat," he said.

Over the weekend, residents in a subdivision off of Lonesome Road, near Highway 59 in Mandeville, caught a bobcat on camera too.

The kind of animal, and the frequency, has Avacato puzzled.

"I don't know what to think actually," he said, "It's just kind of scary."

One of the reasons wildlife experts say people are seeing so much activity like this is because it's breeding season. But a bigger reason, especially in St. Tammany, is because of so much development that's pushing wildlife out of its habitat.

"They're being forced into conflict with humans," said Beau Gast with Louisiana Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, "We are one of the most wildlife conflict affected areas in the country in Southeast Louisiana."

And it keeps nuisance officers like Gast, and Gulf Coast Wildlife Removal, busy.  But he says living with wildlife doesn't have to be a bad thing, it just takes awareness.  Gast says keep your pets indoors or on a leash when outdoors, never feed wildlife and know what to do when you see wildlife.

"With a bobcat, it's going to see you, it's gonna freak out, and it's gonna run away," said Gast, "With a coyote, it's going to stop and look at you. So if a coyote is there in your yard and it stops and looks at you, basically you want to make yourself big and bad, yell and scream at it."

Avacato says his awareness now starts before he even walks out the door.

If you feel like the wildlife you're seeing is a threat, and needs to be relocated, you can contact nuisance officers in your area:

http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/nwco
Louisiana Wildlife Rehabilitators Association 1-888-308-3922
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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