TORRINGTON — For Marie Serbek, it was a little bit of “Wild Kingdom in her backyard this week.
She stepped outside of her Allen Rd. home on Monday to see what looked like a “cat jumping.”
It was a cat, and it was jumping — the bobcat in her backyard was trying to catch a squirrel.
Serbek went to go get a camera, thinking that the bobcat would be gone by the time she returned. It wasn’t. The cat, bigger than one of her medium-sized dogs, she said, hung around for about 15 minutes, allowing Serbek to snap a few photos.
Bobcats, according to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, are far from unknown in the state, though they have been classified as a protected species. They were known to range through all lower 48 states into southern Canada and Mexico, and were originally hunted in Connecticut as an annoyance.
“The status of bobcats has changed dramatically in Connecticut, according to the DEP’s fact sheet on Lynx rufus. “Historically, they were not protected and were viewed as a threat to agriculture and more desirable game species. In addition, the dramatic deforestation that peaked in the 1800s greatly reduced the habitat available to bobcats and many other wildlife species.”
A desire for their pelts and habitat reduction caused the DEP to classify bobcats as “protected furbearers” in the 1970s, meaning there are no hunting or trappings seasons.
Serbek, far from being scared of the 40-pound carnivorous feline in her backyard (she estimated 90 pounds, though DEP says males rarely grow larger than 40 pounds in weight) said she was thrilled.
“I was excited to see it,” she said. “It perked me up for the hour.”
Her confidence is not unfounded, according to the DEP.
“Compared to many wildlife species, bobcats rarely cause conflicts with human activities. Infrequently, they kill livestock, especially fowl, and attack domestic cats,” the DEP’s fact sheet says. “Bobcat attacks on people are virtually unknown.”
For Serbek, close as she is to the Allendale apartment complex, seeing such wildlife is not a regular occurrence. Her neighbor, she said, has seen some deer, but her own experience has been limited — until now.
“The only thing I ever saw was a little red fox twice a year,” she said.
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