• Photo by Mary Magnuson
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Most residents in the neighborhoods east of I-5, in the vast amount of open space near the San Elijo Lagoon and its Escondido Creek watershed (flowing between Olivenhain and Rancho Santa Fe), purchased homes in these areas partially to be closer to nature. Deer, coyotes, skunks, and raccoons roam freely.

Last week, a bobcat was spotted roaming through a suburban Cardiff by the Sea neighborhood near MiraCosta College. Usually nocturnal, this cat was seen at around noon.

It’s not the first time big cats have been seen around the bluff-top Via Tempo neighborhood, but they usually make themselves scarce when a human appears. This cat seemed to be lollygagging, especially for the time of day, around the large homes that sit high above the valley of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve. And it probably won’t be the last to be seen, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“He was probably visiting, looking for rodents,” said DFW spokesperson Janice Mackey in an interview on February 3. She cautioned residents to not feed pets outside and to keep small dogs and cats and small children inside. “Once they find a food source they’ll keep coming back,” she said. “They are constantly on the move and have the smells dialed in.”

Unfortunately, when large predatory animals such as bobcats or coyotes become hooked on people’s trash and food, or pets, they usually can’t be returned to the wild and have to be put down.

Kara, who lives in the 2200 block of Via Tiempo, next door to the home where the bobcat was spotted, said. “We’ve lost three cats over 12 years. We’ve had coyotes at our back sliding-glass door and raccoons in the pool,” she said. Coyote sightings are a common occurrence in this coastal area.

A few blocks north, in the 900 block of Sandcastle Drive, a resident awoke last month to find four coyotes in her backyard. They had scaled a five-foot fence. Fortunately, her animals were inside for the night.

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