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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Bobcat found at doughnut shop

David M. Nelson, of Idaho Fish and Game, takes a look at a young bobcat that was caught in front of Davis Donuts in Coeur d'Alene on Monday. 
 (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

After considerable head-scratching, Idaho Fish and Game officials agreed the green-eyed feline crouching quietly in a metal cage was a bobcat.

But none of the experts could answer the central mystery: What was a wildcat doing in front of a Coeur d’Alene doughnut shop Monday afternoon?

The Fish and Game Department received numerous calls Monday morning of a suspected lynx or bobcat roaming the neighborhood just west of Canfield Mountain. This didn’t make much sense, said Conservation officer Steve Agte. Lynx and bobcat live in Kootenai County, but they are among the shyest of forest creatures and are not likely to be found anywhere near humans.

Shortly after lunch, the cat was spotted near Davis Donuts, at the busy intersection of Fourth Street and Appleway Avenue. Passers-by stopped and used a pole rigged with a twine noose to capture the cat. Jason O’Dell, who owns the Taco Johns restaurant across the street from the doughnut shop, offered a cardboard box to store the cat until a conservation officer arrived.

“It was an awesome-looking animal – definitely wasn’t a house cat,” O’Dell said.

After momentarily becoming the focus of the restaurant’s lunchtime crowd, the cat was whisked away in a metal crate to the Idaho Fish and Game office. Agte, the conservation officer who transported the animal, suspected it was a crossbreed brought into Idaho illegally from a game farm.

“The coloration just doesn’t look right,” Agte said. “It’s not very wild.”

The agency’s environmental biologist, Mary Terra-Berns, who has conducted research on lynx, also doubted it was a wildcat. The cat was crouched in a ball and remained silent as it sat in the cage.

“That’s a kitty cat,” Terra-Berns said when she saw the animal. “If this was a bobcat, there’d be some hissing, spitting and growling.”

The cat is about 6 or 7 pounds and was about the size of a housecat, but with a rounder head, a stubby tale and glaring green eyes that did not seem to invite any petting. When the cat was moved to a wire cage for a closer look, Terra-Berns spotted the tell-tale white spot on the cat’s tale. The transfer prompted the animal to unleash a series of deep growls that caused everyone present to skitter away from the cage.

“It’s definitely a bobcat,” Terra-Berns said.

Agency officials said the animal would be returned to the wild Monday night. The bobcat was born during the spring, but Terra-Berns said it appeared healthy and should have the skills needed to hunt rabbits and survive the winter.