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Wild animals being forced out of habitats

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Updated: 9/19/2013 7:34 am
PONTE VEDRA, Fla. -- Wildlife photographer Craig O'Neal came face to face with a bobcat three weeks ago in South Ponte Vedra.

"It gave me a glance and just kept walking on," said O'Neal.

He said bobcats, one of which he caught on camera recently, are common in the area.

"They're pretty elusive and they're nocturnal mostly."

But that wasn't the case Friday afternoon, when O'Neal's neighbors in Ponte Vedra's Seaside community reported a bobcat was chasing them. St. Johns County deputies determined it was a threat and shot it.

"I would be curious if they tested it and what the test results showed, if it was rabies or distemper," said O'Neal.

Action News has learned the female bobcat wasn't tested, according to St. Johns County Animal Control Manager Paul Studivant.

"It didn't meet the criteria for testing because there was no human exposure that we know of," Studivant said.

We ask why the county wouldn't want to know.

"ou could want to know," Studivant said, "butt there is rabies all around us."

Studivant says a 2009 surveillance test by the state, found 1 in 3 Florida raccoons has rabies. We did some digging and found though August 31, 2013, 30 Florida counties have confirmed cases, including three in Nassau County, two in Duval, and one in St. Johns County.

Those numbers could be higher, but Studivant says the money isn't there to know.

The local lab will not test in Jacksonville if there's no human exposure therefore we'd have to ship it to Kansas State University which is quite expensive."

Studivant says human interaction with wildlife is becoming more common, as St. Johns County develops.

"The more you encroach on wildlife, you're going to see wildlife."

He said he agrees with O'Neal, that police did what they needed to do, no matter what the test results would have been.

"If it was aggressive," said O'Neal, "then the public has to be protected."

Currently there is a rabies alert near the 2400 block of U.S. 1 South until mid-October. Pet owners in this area are advised to keep domestic animals indoors and remove food from outside areas.
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basheley - 10/3/2013 3:18 PM
0 Votes
I recommend spell checking before hitting "publish."

Truthseeker - 9/19/2013 7:28 AM
1 Vote
Butt? I think the only correct useage of the word "butt" that could be associated with this story is when describing the "butt" heads who wrote and edited it.
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