JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bobcat was spotted at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the Bartram Springs neighborhood, near an elementary school.
Another resident of the neighborhood off Race Track Road spotted the big cat again about 1:15 p.m. near a playground while she was walking her golden retriever.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said several parents of students who walk to and from the school called the school expressing their concern. Wildlife officials said the cat was not spotted on the schools campus.
That is only mildly reassuring to parents like Charisse Medina.
"I walk in the morning and afternoon with them to school, so I'm a little bit nervous," said Medina.
Bobcats are about the size of a medium-sized dog, with male bobcats averaging 39 inches in length and weighing about 24 pounds. Females are slightly smaller. They are nocturnal, territorial and solitary, and while they are common in every county in Florida, they rarely let themselves be seen.
FWC officials believe the bobcat is healthy and warned parents to keep their children at a distance, and keep pets indoors. They said the cat is rather shy and may have been out looking for food, but suggest parents keep a close eye on small children and pets until the cat is captured.
Kiara Rodriguez, a fourth-grader at the school, calmly told News4Jax what her teacher told her.
"I asked Miss Vicky and she said it's because a bobcat is near the area," Kiara sid. "She just wants to contact our parents to make sure that we don't walk alone and see it and it comes attacking us."
Later Monday afternoon, the bobcat was spotted again. Allen Kaldaru saw the cat prowling in the bushes as he was staring out of his living room window.
Kaldaru said this was not the first time the wild cat was spotted.
"This is the second time I saw this guy here. The first time was about a year ago," Kaldaru said.
The Bartram Springs resident said he would have been more worried if his small son was home at the time of the spotting.
With a playground just yards away and this elementary school just a bike ride away, the safety concerns of residents in the area are growing.
The state does not trap wild animals, but maintains a list of trappers who do at public.fwc.com.