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A Ride With a Salt River Police Department Ranger

Water flows near the Evergreen spillway in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. A bobcat was spotted in the area late last month.

Patrol for a Salt River Police Department Ranger officer often takes you to the many hidden visual treasures of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. It can also take you on wildlife adventures. The mission of the Salt River Police Department Ranger Bureau is to protect and serve the Community in the areas of environmental crimes and the protection of the Community’s natural resources, including wildlife.

One minute a Ranger can be patrolling the rough gravel roads near Red Mountain, keeping an eye out for trespassers, and the next he or she could be rounding up a wild horse that found an opening in a fence along Beeline Highway or investigating a badger reported to be roaming a golf course. Or, following up a call about trapped dogs (see story below).

It happens. Community members share their Sonoran Desert home with many varieties of wildlife, and it’s up to the Rangers to investigate when animals get too close to homes.

For example, a beaver suspected of swimming down the Salt River into the Arizona Canal was found lounging in the water around Beeline Highway, near housing developments. Later that week it was gone, perhaps back upstream to the mountains, where the critters are more common.

Such was the case on the morning of June 27, when SRPD Ranger Dean Randall was called with a report of a bobcat running toward a school. Workers with SRPMIC Public Works spotted what they believed to be a bobcat near the Evergreen spillway and the Arizona Canal, a little more than a mile east of Salt River Schools.

After checking the area, including a thick set of trees—a potential home or hiding spot for small animals—the animal was not located. No tracks were found either. A second sighting of the cat has not been reported.

Bobcats are rare in the Community; however, through the years, one has been spotted in the area of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and The Pavilions. Another was spotted in the mobile home park near McKellips Road and west of Loop 101.

The animals prey on small critters like rabbits and small rodents. Bobcats usually are not aggressive toward people, Randall said, unless they are cornered or feel threatened. The best advice when coming across a suspected bobcat is to back away slowly. If that’s not an option, make yourself big by raising your arms high.

If you spot a bobcat in the Community, call Salt River Police immediately at (480) 850-9230.