Bobcat family prompts lockdown of high school in Anthem
Posted January 9, 2018 1:45 p.m. EST
ANTHEM, AZ — A bobcat family caused some excitement at Boulder Creek High School Monday, causing the school to be locked down for a time during the students' first day back in class after the holiday break.
"There is a mother bobcat on campus and her babies have fallen into a drainpipe," according to a pop-up message on the school's website. "AZ Game and Fish is on the scene to handle the mother bobcat as they rescue the bobcat babies. This is in the area near the cafeteria. School is under lockdown until the situation is cleared."
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was on campus with Game and Fish.
Mama bobcat was seen wandering off into the desert. At about 12:30 p.m., Game and Fish located and caught the mother bobcat -- they tranquilized her for everyone's safety -- and were still working on extricating her babies.
One of the kittens was captured shortly before 8 p.m., while the second kitten was captured Tuesday morning.
Both kittens are heading to Southwest Wildlife where they will be reunited with their mother.
"They have set a trap for a humane release, and we will continue monitoring that area," Brittany Sutton, the principal at Boulder Creek wrote in a letter sent to parents.
Because the kitten are so skittish, the plan is to leave the traps out overnight and then check on them Tuesday.
A district spokeswoman said the students were not confined to their classrooms during the lockdown.
"Students can move within their buildings right now and will be able to move between buildings as soon as it is deemed safe to do so," Monica Allread said in response to questions from Arizona's Family.
Shortly before noon, the students were released for lunch.
"We have a path to avoid areas with the cats to ensure student safety," Allread explained.
"All students and staff reacted quickly and everyone was safe throughout this incident," Sutton wrote in her letter.
Aerial video from the Penguin Air and Plumbing News Chopper showed an area that had been taped off and a table that had been placed over the opening to the drain pipe. Rescuers later used that table and a couple of more to create a makeshift pen around the opening.
It's not uncommon for bobcats to find their way into neighborhoods, particularly in desert areas outside of the Phoenix metro area. According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, bobcats tend to be most active sunset and sunrise.
While bobcats are shy animals, they're known to make themselves at home in crowded neighborhoods as long as they have water, food and shelter to survive.
There have been instances of bobcats hunting and killing small pets.
Arizona Game and Fish says if you have an encounter with a bobcat, scaring it off with loud noises or spraying it with a garden hose should be enough to encourage it to move on.
Established in 2004 as part of the Deer Valley Unified School District, Boulder Creek has an enrollment of 2,650.
The school is about 40 minutes north of Phoenix along Interstate 17.