Prowling through the trees in southwest Austin, two bobcats were seen by an Austin cyclist, who snapped a rare picture after a run-in with the cats.
The spotted bobcats were seen just off the southern section of the Violet Crown Trail, near the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Sunday morning by long-time Austinite Maxwell Johnston. He was cycling down the trail when he saw what he thought was a house cat. He took a photo of one bobcat, feeling unthreatened, but just before he could snap a photo of the other one, it scurried away.
Bobcats are native to North America and are one of the most common wildcats in the region. While they reside throughout Texas and prefer habitats much like the Hill Country, bobcats are not often spotted in the wild in the Austin area, let alone captured on camera.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the rarity of sightings likely comes from the species' reclusiveness and largely nocturnal habits.
Johnston said that it was his first sighting of a big cat, but hopes to have the experience again.
"I've never seen any wild bobcats before, and I've lived here for 25 years," Johnston said. "(It was a) very cool experience and I would love to come across one again."
Even though they are not often seen by humans, Texas Parks and Wildlife state mammologist Jonah Evans said that bobcats are becoming more comfortable with people in state and national parks.
"There are parks where they've become pretty used to people and people can go see him fairly regularly," Evans said. "Obviously that's not ideal. We like animals to maintain their fear of humans, but there are places where you can see bobcats fairly regularly."
Evans has had some bobcat sightings himself and, like Johnston, has never felt endangered by their presence.
"I've seen maybe a handful of bobcats in the wild and I've always been excited when I did," Evans said. "(I) never had even a second of thought of like, 'Oh no, I might be in danger' or something like that. They just aren't really a threat to people."
More on Austin animals:
Following the purchase of a converted 34-foot-long van, Addicus' Legacy Dog Rescue's pups headed to their forever homes in style during its maiden voyage last week.
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Vaccine week 13: Travis County to receive more than 75K doses of vaccine thanks to Johnson & Johnson bump
Eighty-seven providers in Travis County will receive a total of 75,540 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for the week of March 8 as part of the 13th weekly allocation, a nearly 62% increase compared to last week's. The significant increase is largely due to inclusion of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received an emergency use authorization from the FDA last weekend.
The bulk will go to hub providers Austin Public Health and UT Health Austin, the clinical wing of Dell Medical School, as well as to Seton Medical Center, which will receive the largest share of this week's shipment. These three providers will either receive doses from Moderna or Pfizer.
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