Updated: Wednesday, 01 Dec 2010, 8:07 AM EST
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – WAVY.com made an unusual find on a Hampton Roads highway Tuesday — a dead bobcat .
The bobcat is uncommon in populated areas of Hampton Roads.
Virginia Beach City Treasurer John Atkinson first saw it and called WAVY.com. He said, “You won’t believe this, Andy, there’s a dead bobcat on 264.”
Atkinson was right. The animal was found on the side of the road on I-264 eastbound between Military Highway and I-64 in Norfolk.
The Virginia Living Museum in Newport News has a bobcat in its Natural Habitat at the museum. Bobcat’s are known as the silent stalker. It’s secretive, camouflaged and can live near people without being detected.
“They want to stay away from people. Bobcats want to live near the Great Dismal Swamp, the mountains, but rarely are they going to come out to someone’s yard or have contact with humans. That is not part of their behavior or their instincts,” said Museum Curatorial Director George Mathews.
Mathews said you rarely see them along the highway or developments with people.
“One of the threats to their survival is habitat destruction,” said Mathews.
No one knows for sure, but Mathews thinks the bobcat’s journey started deep in the Dismal Swamp.
“He left his natural habitat, finding his way along the grassy areas and woods,” said Mathews. “He was roaming, lost and alone.”
He traveled about 26 miles until he got to the woods near 264, and then into traffic where he was likely killed.
So why would a bobcat leave its natural habitat, in this case being the Dismal Swamp?
“It could have had another animal disturbance back in the swamp, or he was looking for food,” Mathews said.
The bigger question, are there other bobcats lurking, searching and stalking.
“Probably not. He probably traveled alone, then crossed the street at the wrong time and wrong place,” Mathews added.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has no statistics on bobcats killed along the road.
The Virginia Department of Transportation removed the bobcat’s remains from 264 and only lists debris from the road side in categories like “small dead animal.”