PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Animal protection groups have condemned Oregon state officials for its handling of a young bobcat found at a private school in Eugene.
The animal was one of two young bobcats found last week at Oak Hill School. The first actually entered the school while students and staff were inside. Lane County Sheriff deputies caught it and took it to the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division.
ODFW said the bobcat displayed “abnormal behavior” so OSP euthanized it.
“Bobcats are usually not considered a human safety threat due to their small size,” ODFW wrote in a statement. “However, this bobcat’s abnormal behavior led wildlife biologists to consider it a public nuisance and potential human safety threat were it to claw or bite someone.”
A second young bobcat was found outside of the school the next day. It was caught and taken to the ODFW and officials there decided to release it on BLM land in Lane County on Oct. 18. They said the bobcat was at least six months old and healthy.
The Humane Society of the United States and national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense said Wednesday they learned the first bobcat was not “humanely euthanized” but rather killed by blunt force trauma to the head.
The groups said they were informed by an ODFW official in an email.
“Let’s be clear, this bobcat kitten posed no threat to anyone, said Brooks Fahy, executive director of the national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense. “And unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Most of these cases go unnoticed by the general media because ODFW always says they ‘humanely euthanized’ the animal. They didn’t. It didn’t meet that criteria. They killed it.”
The animal rights groups said the bobcat wasn’t sick or hurt and its destruction wasn’t in line with Oregon’s humane values.
“There is no excuse for such an inhumane action when, as we’ve seen with the second bobcat who was found at the same school and released unharmed earlier this week, the first kitten could have easily received that same treatment,” said Kelly Peterson, Oregon senior state director of the Humane Society of the United States. “We implore ODFW to listen to the intense backlash it’s received and adopt a policy prioritizing nonlethal responses to wildlife conflicts.”
Officials said the bobcats were likely siblings. They could have been orphaned, abandoned by their mother or just following the laws of nature by striking out on their own since they were the right age.