A juvenile bobcat was euthanized Wednesday after it entered an Eugene-area school. A day later another bobcat, assumed to be a sibling, was also found near the school.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to reports of the juvenile bobcat inside of Oak Hill School, near Lane Community College.
“It was really exhibiting some very abnormal behavior,” Michelle Dennehy, a spokesperson with ODFW, said. “It was in the building when students and staff were there.”
Dennehy said bobcats typically aren’t a threat to humans, as they’re significantly smaller than other animals like cougars, but this bobcat’s behavior lead ODFW’s wildlife biologists to believe it could have hurt someone.
“Certainly if it were to claw or bite someone, that would be a concern, so that’s why that action was taken,” Dennehy said in regards to Oregon State Police euthanizing the animal.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a statement Thursday calling ODFW’s decision to euthanize the animal a “lethal overreaction.”
“This was a young kitten, likely with her mom waiting for her return,” said Kelly Peterson, HSUS Oregon senior state director. “It is growing more difficult to trust a state agency charged with protecting our wildlife when time and time again these kinds of responses show they cannot be trusted with such an important role.”
“They simply must do better,” said Peterson.
Dennehy clarified the bobcat was not a kitten, but a juvenile.
“Again, just stressing, this is very abnormal behavior,” Dennehy said. “A bobcat entering a building with people around — it’s just something that we didn’t feel comfortable with releasing.”
A second bobcat was found near the school Thursday. School staff captured the animal and it was transported to ODFW’s Wildlife Health Lab for evaluation.
“We’ll see if we can possibly release this one back into the wild, or it may be a situation where it will need to be in captivity,” Dennehy said. “So, that’s the evaluation we’re making now.”
Bobcats are known to be territorial and solitary animals, according to ODFW.