Newporters have a new neighbor: Vanity, the bobcat.
Vanity was caught after she chased a squirrel into a trap in someone’s backyard, Newport Beach Animal Control Officer Mike Teague said.
She was collared, tagged and released. She has been moving around since then, Dick Newell of OC Trackers said, and last he checked she was down in the Newport Aquatic Center area.
“She’s just doing what bobcats do,” Newell said. “She’s just chasing rabbits and staying out of trouble.”
Vanity is a very young cat, Newell said. She has not given birth yet and her teeth have little wear on them. She is fairly small for a female, he added, about 12 to 24 pounds.
The collar will automatically detach itself after a few months, Newell said. They can gather data and learn about her movements, habits and lifestyle that way.
“Its unlimited how much info we can gather,” he said.
Newell said they want to learn about them without impeding too much on their way of life.
She was also tagged with a bright pink tag in her left ear, he added, so she should be easy to identify. Males are tagged in the right ear, he added.
Including Vanity, there have been two bobcats collared in the Back Bay, Newell said. The other is the more famous: Babe. Other bobcats that were collared elsewhere also have come into the area, he added.
“We happen to have a territory very conducive to them,” he said.
There are a lot of rabbits, squirrels and rodents for them, he added.
There have been many sightings of Vanity, Newell said. Bobcats aren’t particularly secretive animals, he added, they can be out at any hour of the day and they live and play in close proximity with humans, so they have become fairly tolerant of people.
Having bobcats in the area is no threat to people, Newell said.
“They never bother us. It’s the other way round,” he said.
If people would leave them alone, not chase or throw food or other things at them, they would be fine, he said.
In fact, Newel said, “They’re very positive. They’re helping control the rodent population.”
Newell recommends that people who sight a bobcat take any photos from a distance, and not try to walk up and get a close-up shot or pet them, he said. Explain to any children present what they are and how they fit in with the circle of life, he suggested.
“Just don’t interfere with them,” he said.
And then report the sighting to OC Trackers.
“I’m never turning down information,” he said.
Sightings can be logged at any time of day at www.octrackers.com.
Bobcats aren’t interested in leashed pets either, he said. It’s important that they’re leashed because if a dog chases or corners a bobcat may feel threatened and become defensive. But pets are not a food source, he said.
“The only time your pet might be in jeopardy is if you have a rabbit,” he said. So maybe think twice before letting a pet rabbit loose in an open backyard without supervision.
“They‘re an interesting species. This is one we happened to be blessed with in the Newport Back Bay,” Newell said. “And hopefully she’ll be in our neighborhood for the next five to 10 years.”