A high school football rivalry is believed to be behind a disturbing incident in which a dead bobcat was hung from a goalpost at a Tennessee football field.
As reported by Tennessee ABC affiliate WAAY and the Tullahoma News & Guardian, among other sources, a dead bobcat carcass was found hanging from a goalpost at Tullahoma’s home football field on Tuesday, just days before Tullahoma faces off against county rival Coffee County. The dead big cat is a not-so-veiled, mean-spirited prank aimed at the Tullahoma mascot, the Wildcats. There has been no decisive lead into who might be responsible for the rather grotesque act, but speculation has centered around those affiliated with the Coffee County football program.
That speculation and fears of Tullahoma retaliation (what does one do to infuriate Red Raiders?) inspired Coffee County principal Dr. Joey Vaughan to condemn those responsible for the dead bobcat and asking for more civility between the rival schools.
“This isn’t what a rivalry is about and this is not what our school and our community are about,” Vaughan told the Tullahoma News & Guardian. “This isn’t rivalry. This is mean. This is wrong and hateful. This does not represent our student body as a whole. We have great kids at our school and Tullahoma has great kids at its school.”
Vaughan’s statement was echoed by his counterpart at Tullahoma. Here’s the official statement from Tullahoma Director of Schools Dr. Dan Lawson:
“Local authorities and officials with Coffee County High School and Tullahoma High School are investigating this issue,” Lawson’s statement reads. “This despicable act does not represent the leadership, citizenry or the vast majority of students at Coffee County High School and Tullahoma High School. We are friends, neighbors, relatives and at time fierce competitors, but that fierce competition leaves no room for cruelty to animals. Nearly every student in Tullahoma and Manchester is disgusted that any innocent animal is used as an object lesson and all are hopeful that our competition is safe, fair and fun.”
Incredibly, the punishment for actually killing the animal could be relatively light. The only official sanction that could be levied against the perpetrators is hunting outside a closed season — bobcat season doesn’t open until Nov. 21 (who knew you could legally kill bobcats?) — which is a misdemeanor that results in fines and a revoked hunting license.
Unfortunately, that won’t save the bobcat who was hanging from the goalposts. Of course, the animal’s revenge could still come in the form of additional punishment for the perpetrators from their respective school districts, provided that they’re still students.