By Karen Billing
A bobcat has been spotted frequently over the last few weeks in the Pacific Highlands Ranch community of Airoso near Canyon Crest Academy.
Resident Mark Bulgarelli was walking with his 5-pound Chihuahua Ripley at about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 15 in a common area between the units when a large cat jumped from the bushes.
He said the bobcat was the size of a medium-sized dog, clearly a lot bigger than a large house cat and reddish gray in color.
Bulgarelli said the cat was only several feet away from him and a foot away from Ripley.
“He looked right at Ripley and then, after a very short moment, turned and walked the other way,” Bulgarelli said. “In retrospect he was a beautiful animal. He was very stealthy and quiet and we had no idea he was there until he was in Ripley’s face.”
Karen Dubey, the Airoso HOA president, said one board member feels the bobcat may be an escaped illegal pet because it is in the community every day and lets people get too close to it.
The day before Bulgarelli’s encounter, the bobcat was spotted near the basketball courts.
According to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, bobcats are active during the day but prefer twilight, dawn or night hours. They are not known to attack humans but will prey on chickens, small pets and rabbits — Dubey said there are a lot of rabbits in their community. San Diego County Critter Control advises keeping small pets inside at night and to eliminate food and water sources outside of the home.
A local California Department of Fish and Wildlife representative told an Airoso resident that homeowners can discourage the bobcat with noise or water.
For bobcat removal, residents can contact San Diego County Wildlife Services: (800) 486-0010.