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WEST DES MOINES, IOWA — A set of photos of a bobcat taken in West Des Moines has neighbors talking and police talking wildlife biology. The photos and video, captured by West Des Moines resident Rachel Port along a bike trail, and originally posted to her personal Facebook page, were shared by the West Des Moines Police Department’s Facebook page and accompanied by a lengthy post. Both posts have drawn a large number of comments as well as a few questions about bobcats in Iowa.

The posts also drew the attention of the Iowa DNR and the state’s leading furbearer biologist, Vince Evelsizer.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Evelsizer said. “Iowa’s bobcat population has been stable for years now, and they have actually been adding numbers in the southern half of the state.”

Given the large number of rabbits, squirrels, mice and voles in suburban Des Moines, Evelsizer says people should assume this bobcat isn’t lacking for company. In fact, there may be another bobcat just out of the view of Port’s camera.

“We studied (her) video,” he said, “and looking at the way this cat keeps looking away from the camera and into the weeds along the bike trail, it may be paying more attention to another cat than to the human.”

That’s almost always the way it goes with bobcats in the wild. There have been no reports of attacks on humans by bobcats in recent decades, and it’s only a very rare report that mentions interactions with pets.

Sgt. Jason Heintz of the West Des Moines Police Department concurs.

“We haven’t heard of any problems,” he said. “And just by the reactions to the post(s) it seems like most people appreciate the nature we’ve got.”

Evelsizer says that–with the exception of those with outdoor cats or very small dogs living near these green belts and spending a lot of time outdoors at night–metro homeowners should consider bobcats to be a welcome sight.

“They help keep the rabbit and squirrel populations in check, and they’re a sign of a healthier ecosystem.”

Neither the DNR nor the West Des Moines Police Department has any plans to disturb this bobcat or any others in the area.