Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Barbara Collins welcomes all types of wildlife into her Edson Street backyard -- rabbits, turkey, cranes, woodchucks. She even has a koi pond full of fish and a very popular bird feeder.
That's why Collins didn't mind when a bobcat squeezed through her fence into her yard Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm assuming he's going to be a creature of habit," Collins said. "I told my friend to come over and if we all sit here and be quiet, put the dog in the house, maybe we can see him again."
Collins said this bobcat has visited her home several times before, this is just the first time she was able to grab a photograph.
"Kevin never saw it," Collins said of her husband. "He's like, 'Uh-huh, sure. And it's how big? Okay.' That's more-so why I ran and got the camera. Last year he came through around the same time of year. He just cut through the yard. We put the fence up because of the bobcat and he still managed to get in last night."
Though she said she enjoys whatever draws the wildlife to her property, she worries about her dog, Boo's, safety. Boo is a Portuguese podengo, a breed known for its skillful hunting, however, she said it's not Boo's strong suit.
"I watched 'Mountain Man' a couple days ago and his doggies got mauled," Collins said, visibly saddened. "You see how fat my dog is? That cat would outrun my dog in a second."
While she and a friend sat in lawn chairs beside the koi pond, Collins in the same seat she sat in when she had seen the bobcat the night before, she said she wasn't worried about the safety of her family.
"Honestly I have no problem with him being in my yard," Collins said. "I think it's beautiful."
"He doesn't approach us, he just walks the same path along the fence there," she added.
Rabbits are a different story.
"After I took the picture, I showed my neighbor and he hopped in his car to go look for it and he saw him going into the woods after a bunny," Collins said. "This place is loaded with bunny rabbits. In my yard alone, there's at least five or six of them, so that's why he's coming to this area."
Edward Walega, of Upstate Nuisance Wildlife Control, said there's has been an increase in rabbits, so he's not surprised about the bobcat making an appearance. He said the area near Collins' home is typical to a bobcat's habitat.
"She's near the industrial park and everything," Walega said. "There's a lot of rock piles near there off of Widow Susan Road and into the industrial park.
Walega said a bobcat's main diet consists of rabbits and white-tail deer. They usually range between 14 and 21 pounds, though they can get up to 30 pounds. Sometime they are confused with lynx, but Walega said they are not native to this area.
Walega said with his agency, he's not even allowed to trap them unless they become a nuisance.
"I can't trap them or anything," Walega said. "It's called exclusion. I try to keep them away. I tell the owners to keep the food away, the dog food all away, keep it indoors. They go after mice, too and mice hang around bird feeders."
Collins said she spoke with the city animal control officer and she said was more worried about people from the town coming to hunt the bobcat after hearing of Collins' story.
"Yeah, but I own this property," Collins said. "And other there and over there. Nobody is coming here to shoot that bobcat. That would be [trespassing.] Nobody is going to hurt that thing here."
Rick Georgeson, public information officer of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said bobcats aren't known to approach people.
"Seeing a bobcat is very rare as they are quite elusive creatures," Georgeson said in an email. "However, they are fairly common in the rural areas of the state. If someone is lucky enough to see one, they should appreciate it from a distance like any other wild animal."
Kevin Collins sent the photograph Barbara took into NEWS10 ABC, which put it on its Facebook page. Quickly, the picture received comments from the public, all of whom had their own opinions about what to "do with it." Some were pro-extinguishing the animal from the area, some prayed people let it be.
"I feel like people should just let it go and let the world be the world," Collins said. "As long as it's not eating my garden, I'm good."
If a wild animal is spotted and seems to be staggering, showing no feat of people or appears to be sick or wounded, it should be reported to authorities.