KEENE — Keene State College students are being cautioned to stay away from any bobcat after one was spotted on campus.
One of the predators was seen near the walking and biking path near the trestle bridge earlier this week, according to an alert sent to all students by the campus safety department.
The animals have been seen around campus before.
“Wildlife is frequently spotted on campus, species include chipmunk, squirrel, rabbit, skunk, groundhog, opossum, raccoon, fox, bobcat, coyote, whitetail deer, black bear and moose,” the email states. “While many of these are predators, the Bobcat included are generally wary of humans and do their best to avoid interaction with us.”
Bobcats remain protected in New Hampshire, with no hunting season for the big cat. The animals have been increasing in number over the past 20 years, according to a University of New Hampshire joint study project with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
“Increased sightings and captures of bobcats in the past 10 years or so suggest that they are becoming more abundant in New Hampshire. The extent of this population increase is not known, but it does seem likely that bobcats have responded to 20 years of protection,” according to that study.
New Hampshire used to pay a bounty to hunters for killing bobcats as part of a program that ran through the 1970s. As the numbers diminished, the state took measures to protect the animals. Today it is believed that bobcats are back in every county in New Hampshire.
Bobcats stand 19-22 inches at the shoulder and 28-49 inches in length, on average. They typically weigh between 15 and 35 pounds. The animals typically stay away from people, but can be dangerous if injured.