We’ve seen bobcats in our neighborhood, hanging out on the roof, chilling in our backyard and caught on Ring Doorbell. Some worry we are overrun, but Dr. Mary Ellen Bluntzer, an internist who has lived in Preston Hollow for 20 years, is wild about bobcats and says you are lucky to see them. A fifth-generation Texan, Bluntzer grew up with a pet bobcat. She is the daughter of a veterinarian and an artist and enjoyed playing Tarzan as a child. Passionate about Tanzania (she’s been there three times), she also has rescued squirrels for the last 35 years. Bluntzer is now on the board of Crosstimbers Bobcat Research and Rescue in Terrell, which houses 20 to 30 bobcats.
Photography by Danny Fulgencio
Why she’s so passionate about bobcats: Back then there were no rehabbers. There were vets’ kids. That’s what we did. People would bring my dad wildlife, and he would bring them home and teach us what to do, and we’d raise them. In Corpus Christi, an area was bulldozed and workers came across a bobcat and a nest of babies. We know now that they should have left it there. My dad kept one, brought it home and went back to work. He said by the time he got back, the cat was bonding with me. He was forever upset about that. I was the only one who could pet her. She would sleep by my head on the bed. She had the run of the house. I didn’t appreciate until now how deeply that formed my regard, respect and intuitive understanding of how nature operates.
What happens when you try to make a bobcat a pet: What people don’t understand about wildlife is that there’s a sweet, gentle place in them, but it’s hard to find because they’re putting their lives on the line. People think they can make bobcats pets. Neighbors get them in their house as kittens and then the bobcats get big and people say, “Oh, no. This won’t work. It’s too big. It eats too much. I have kids.”
On finding sanctuary: The bobcats have been abandoned. Otherwise, it would be euthanasia. You can’t release them because they’re imprinted on humans. They won’t run away. With these Preston Hollow sightings, the fact that the bobcats are scared is perfect. We don’t want them to be tame.
Why you shouldn’t be afraid when you see a bobcat on your property: Bobcats don’t mess with human beings. When I lived in San Antonio, one of the herpetologists at the zoo was bitten by a venomous snake. It was a big thing on television. They found the anti-venom. They saved him. They decided to interview him. They asked, “Did you kill the snake?” The man was horrified. He said, “No. I was the problem. The snake was just being a snake.” The bobcat is just being a bobcat.
Why bobcats love our neighborhood: The bobcat’s fundamental reaction is fear. There is so much food here — rats, squirrels and rabbits. We have places where they can hide — culverts, ditches and parks. We have dogs, but we fence them in. We send the bobcats an engraved invitation.
What to do if you see a bobcat in our neighborhood: Enjoy it. In all my life, I’ve never seen a bobcat in the wild. I’m jealous. Let your curiosity be aroused. You’re not in any danger.
If you’re interested in contributing to the Crosstimbers Bobcat Research and Rescue in Terrell, email email@example.com.