Metro

Westford residents spot bobcats in neighborhood

The return of a bobcat pack in Westford had one family excited.

Software engineer and father William Azer said he saw the first bobcat on his property about a month ago, but he didn’t expect it would return with another adult and two kittens.

“Initially, we saw it once, then it came back with a couple of others,” Azer said. “It seemed like a family. We were really excited. My daughter was really excited.”

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The most recent sightings happened Saturday and Sunday.

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A few residents also have reported sightings in recent days but they were not sent officially to the town’s animal control department.

Daniel Hurd, the town’s lead animal control officer, said he receives random calls about bobcats, bears, and coyotes but doesn’t typically get calls about them traveling in packs.

“That would have been news to us,” Hurd said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Hurd said like most animals, bobcats will typically keep their distance and keep away from humans, but those with small pets should keep them close and inside if bobcats are roaming.

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Bobcats are nocturnal mammals and are approximately twice as big as the average housecat, weighing anywhere between 11 and 30 pounds, according to National Geographic.

They are well distributed across the state but are more common in Western Massachusetts, said Marjorie Rines, a naturalist with Mass Audubon.

Rines said the increased sightings are probably because of the prevalence of security cams more than anything.

Azer’s surveillance camera recently caught video of a bobcat with a squirrel in its mouth, possibly feeding it to its offspring.

He decided to alert neighbors online, just in case they have small pets around. He is not a pet owner.

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“I asked had anybody seen it and to be aware of their pets,” Azer said.

He said the reaction from neighbors has been mostly positive.

“Some people are a little worried or nervous, but it’s great to see some beautiful wildlife. Where we live is wooded so it’s somewhat expected,” Azer said. “My daughter said they were playing hide-and-go-seek.”

Hurd said his department typically monitors social media groups to see the chatter among neighbors around animal sightings. He said they will only respond if the animals are going through trash barrels or are getting too close to homes.

Azer said it’s a given that animals like these would show up now and then.

“We’ve kind of entrenched on their thing, so we got to let them live like we do,” he said.

Hurd agrees, saying neighbors have nothing to worry about.

“As long as you’re staying safe, it’s actually pretty cool to see nature at work,” he said.

Jordan Frias can be reached at jordan.frias@globe.com.