HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. --
A bobcat has recently been seen roaming base grounds near housing. The animal is not considered a threat to human safety, but base personnel and residents should take precautions if they encounter the animal, Hanscom officials said.
"Healthy bobcats rarely attack humans," said Dr. Heather Mazzaccaro, Hanscom veterinarian. "They most commonly prey on animals such as rabbits and hares but will eat mice, squirrels, skunk, opossum, muskrat, birds and snakes to name a few."
The bobcat is a medium-sized feline approximately twice the size of a domestic cat. It can be easily identified by its short, bobbed tail, prominent face ruff and slightly tufted ears, according to the Massachusetts Department of Wildlife website.
"While not necessarily a regular occurrence, Hanscom has had coyote and fox sightings on base before," said Mazzaccaro. "It's important to understand that there is wildlife that is indigenous to this part of the country; bobcats, foxes and coyotes are among the best examples that have been seen on the installation."
Bobcats are normally seen in central and western Massachusetts, however, are also known in eastern Massachusetts. And although bobcats usually prey on wild animals they may attack domestic cats or small dogs if left unattended, according to Mazzaccaro.
She recommends the following tips from the Department of Wildlife website should be followed to prevent contact with bobcats or other wild animals.
Do not panic or run.
Don't hesitate to scare or threaten bobcats with loud noises and bright lights. If a water hose is close at hand, spray the bobcat with water in the face. Let the bobcat know it is unwelcome in your area.
Stand up straight and make yourself appear tall and large
. If encountered, turn your body sideways and slowly walk away from the animal. If attacked, fight back.
Be careful not to corner the animal
. If the animal is confined, open a gate and allow the animal to leave on its own.
Secure your garbage
. Bobcats will raid open trash materials and compost piles. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight-fitting lids and keep in secure buildings when possible. Take out trash the morning pick up is scheduled, not the previous night. Keep compost piles in containers designed to contain but vent the material.
Don't feed or try to pet bobcats
. Keep wild animals wild. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause wild animals to act tame and over time may lead to bold behavior. Bobcats that rely on natural food items remain wild and wary of humans.
Be aware of possible shelter sites
. Bobcats may seek shelter during the day in thick brush, underneath decks or gain access to unsecured sheds and garages. Keep vegetation in yards trimmed to limit shelter sites.
Keep your pets safe
. For the safety of your pets, keep them restrained at all times. Do not let cats outside unless on a leash. Feed pets inside or remove uneaten pet food between feedings.
Keep bird feeding areas clean
. Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground as the seed attracts many small mammals that bobcats prey upon. Remove feeders if bobcats are regularly seen.
Only if a predator is threatening, contact 66th Security Forces Squadron at 781-225-5000. If a bobcat attacks you or your pet, seek medical attention immediately. Bobcats can carry rabies.
For further information about bobcats and other wildlife found in Massachusetts, visit http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/