Murphy police chief, News 8 viewers react to shooting of caged bobcat

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on August 18, 2011 at 10:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 18 at 10:44 PM

MURPHY - A bobcat was caught in a live trap after officials with the City of Murphy said it was a nuisance to a neighborhood. But, instead of releasing the bobcat somewhere else, a police officer shot the caged animal.

WFAA's report on the incident drew nearly 200 comments from viewers, including Valeri Marler, of the National Bobcat Rescue and Research Foundation.

“We hear these stories every day," she said. "It made me sad.”

Many viewers also contacted the City of Murphy, and by mid-afternoon, the police chief responded on Facebook.

"After a complete review, it is my feeling that this incident could have been handled better and any future incidents will be," the chief wrote. "The City of Murphy is a great place to live, but it is not without challenges. The situation was evaluated, and based on the judgment of the animal control officer on the scene, the actions taken were the safest for the employees. I can only say that we are not above making mistakes. We will fix it I assure you."

“It's our job to learn about them and allow them to be where they are because they're not aggressive animals,” Marler said of bobcats.

Not all viewers agreed with her, with some saying the bobcat was a danger to pets and children. Marler, however, said urban bobcats are much smaller and less aggressive than rural bobcats.

“Their main diet are squirrels, rabbits, rats, mice, snakes," she said. "They don’t like to go after anything bigger than their normal prey because it’s frightening to them.”

Marler said pet deaths caused by coyotes and owls are often erroneously blamed on urban bobcats. She said she does not advocate trapping bobcats, but when it happens, she hopes officers and citizens alike will remember this story and use her foundation rather than a gun.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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