Body of dead bobcat a mystery

HARLINGEN — After a bobcat was found lying dead in an alleyway, city and federal officials say they have no idea where the body went.

After an email prompted an investigation, it was discovered that a bobcat had indeed been found dead in an alleyway Sunday.

The exact location of the alleyway is unclear and the cause of death is unknown.

Keep in mind, this occurred before resident Lisa Anderson said she saw what appeared to be a mountain lion at the bank of the Arroyo Colorado at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park on Monday.

Experts said they thought it was a large bobcat based on the photo taken by Anderson.

Police and animal control confirmed yesterday the body that was found Sunday was definitely a bobcat.

Senior animal control officer Shannon Harvill said police dispatch contacted her Sunday regarding the animal.

“We don’t pick up bodies, so we contacted Texas Parks and Wildlife to see if they wanted to remove or if they had any special procedures,” she said.

Capt. James Dunks with TPW said yesterday that game wardens did not remove the bobcat.

“We don’t pick up dead animals unless they are endangered, like the ocelot,” he confirmed.

In that event, TPW will contact the necessary authorities to dispose of the carcass.

When an animal control officer went back to the alley Monday, the body was gone.

Both entities concluded they had no idea where the body went, but did speculate.

Dunks said it’s possible another animal, like a dog, could have carried it off. Bobcats, he said, are about two times the size of an ordinary house cat and could easily be carried off by a large dog or other animal.

It’s possible a person could have scooped up the animal carcass.

If what Anderson saw on Monday was in fact a bobcat, then nature experts say there are likely to be more in the area.

“Bobcats are so common, they’re everywhere,” Dunks said.

On Monday at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, Anderson saw a cat 30 to 40 feet away that caught her eye. It was bigger than her 75-pound German shepherd, she said.

“I could see the tail whisking back and forth, and I thought, that’s a long tail, that’s a big cat,” she recalled.

Anderson’s description of the cat would seem to be that of a mountain lion, and not a bobcat, a species more common in Hugh Ramsey Nature Park and the Harlingen Thicket.

However, Dr. Michael Tewes, regents professor and research scientist at Texas A&M-Kingsville, said he believes the photograph was that of a bobcat.

“After 35 years, I have perhaps a rare perspective on cat observations and biology,” Tewes said via email.

“The white on the back of the ears are diagnostic for separating those two felids. Also, the 6- to 8-inch tail of a bobcat can flick, and appear long,” he said. “More than once, folks have even interpreted house cats as cougars.”

Dr. Hilary Swarts, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who also is an expert on wildcats, said she believes it probably was a bobcat as well.