Bobcat spotted near school

Official urges residents to give animal space

Seymour-Jackson Elementary School may have a wildcat as its mascot, but it’s not responsible for a real wildcat seen in the area Thursday.

Several people have sighted and taken photos of a bobcat wandering around in Freeman Field Industrial Park near warehouses, not far from the school.

Bill Rinehart, who works at Dicksons, snapped a picture of the cat along C Avenue across from Columbus Container.

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“It was just sitting very calmly, just looking around,” said Rinehart, who stayed in his car to snap the picture.

Animal control officer Chuck Heiss and other officers responded to the area to try to locate the animal. Heiss said he was able to visually confirm the animal was a bobcat after seeing it walk into a bean field.

He couldn’t tell if it was a male or female but said it was about average size for the species, about 20 to 25 pounds.

Heiss advised people to steer clear of the animal if they see it and not to try to feed it, approach it, track it or hunt it.

“They are solitary animals and will avoid human contact unless they are threatened or scared in some way,” he said. “It will most likely clear the area on its own.”

He believed the cat had wandered out of a wooded area somewhere. It was the second report of a bobcat he has responded to in a week, he said. The first call was of a bobcat being seen on Jackson Park Drive near Bob Poynter’s GM dealership.

A recent report of a coyote near Seymour-Jackson Elementary school turned out to be a fox, he said.

Bobcats are protected in Indiana, meaning they cannot be hunted or trapped but they are not in danger of becoming extinct.

With the animal being spotted so close to Seymour-Jackson Elementary School and Head Start, Heiss said he would monitor the situation and contact the state Department of Natural Resources to trap and relocate the animal if he thought that was needed.

“I stopped by Head Start, and they said they would keep the kids inside for a couple of days,” he said. “I think he will have moved on within the next 24 hours.”

It’s not uncommon for Heiss to respond to wildlife calls in the city.

“I probably get six to 12 a week,” he said.

That includes snakes, foxes, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, turtles and even hawks and owls.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.