ALAMO -- It's been a bad year for Charlie Jarrett's geese.
He's lost three to raccoons over the past five months, and, most recently, a bobcat gutted one before hopping over his fence.
Jarrett lives on an acre-and-a-half parcel in the rural Alamo Oaks subdivision in Alamo. On the morning of Dec. 12, he was cleaning horse manure in his front yard and looked down the slope to where he keeps four African gray geese and was shocked to see a bobcat standing over the gutted corpse of one of them inside his fence not 20 feet away.
"He was just checking me out, not overly excited," Jarrett said.
Jarrett said he yelled for his wife to come look but the bobcat loped off. "He just popped right over the fence."
He said the cat was about the size of a medium-sized dog and had a bobcat's distinctive short tail and tufted ears. Unfortunately, Jarrett, who has worked as a freelance photographer and reporter, did not have his camera handy.
"I'm a guy who's spent a lot of time in the woods, so I know a bobcat when I see a bobcat," he said.
Jarrett has a five-foot-tall steel spike fence around his front yard to protect the geese. Over the years, coyotes have gotten inside and carried off geese.
This year has been particularly problematic. Raccoons have killed three of his geese. The raccoons don't eat them but just kill them, he said.
In response, Jarrett put wire around the fence, which has kept the coyotes and raccoons out -- but not the latest predator in the neighborhood.
"We have not ever been concerned about bobcats," he said, adding that he and his wife have lived in their home since 1977 and have never seen a bobcat in the neighborhood.
Since the bobcat attack, he has modified the top of the fence with netting and wire on the top bars with sharp prongs sticking up.
Jarrett said he wants his neighbors to know there's a bobcat around. "A lot people in Alamo Oaks have cats and dogs, as well as birds, and I don't want to see them get wiped out."
Susan Heckly, a wildlife rehabilitation director at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, said bobcats are fairly common in the Bay Area. "We get four or five calls a year from people seeing bobcats in the county," she said. "They are not a rare animal by any means, but they are very secretive."
Heckly said if anyone sees a bobcat it's best to keep your distance, especially if it's attacking an animal. She said they usually hunt at dawn or dusk, but in the wintertime their metabolic rates are up and they may hunt in the daytime.
Heckly said it's best to keep animals enclosed to protect them from predators. She said she's never heard of a bobcat attacking a human.
"They are very, shy and most people never see them," she said.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.