State legislatures, including our own North Carolina General Assembly, are fond of adopting state symbols; they’re a great way to celebrate diverse aspects of our state’s history, unique culture, and natural heritage.
A quick look at the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website shows us that, over the years, the legislature has adopted a wide range of official state symbols: we have a state beverage (milk), a state vegetable (the sweet potato), a state bird (the cardinal), a state dog (the plott hound), a state butterfly (the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail), a state insect (the honeybee), a state rock (granite), a state fruit (the Scuppernong Grape), a state Christmas Tree (the Fraser Fir), a state carnivorous plant (the Venus Flytrap) — and of course, a state marsupial (the opossum).
One thing North Carolina doesn’t have is a state cat — although we came pretty close last year when the House voted, 114 to 2, to adopt the bobcat as North Carolina’s official state cat. The legislation, House Bill 161, has been parked in the Senate Rules Committee ever since.
The bobcat, the only wild cat found in North Carolina, is a member of the North American cat family and is found throughout every region of the state, especially in the wooded habitats of the coastal plain and mountains. The bobcat gets its name from its short “bobbed” tail and has a round face with long hair resembling sideburns.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission tells us more:
“Early settlers were fascinated with the bobcat (sometimes called wildcat) and especially with its elusive, solitary and wily habits. Settlers called the bobcat “ol’ spitfire,” “lightning” and “woods ghost,” among other names. Some even believed various parts of its body possessed special healing powers.
“These and other superstitions circulated by the early settlers in America were born out of inspiration, fear and awe of the bobcat. The bobcat’s secre- tive nature, its cunning and its toughness continue to fascinate people today.”
Click here for a full profile of the bobcat from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Although House Bill 161 did not pass in 2015, it is eligible to return for further consideration when the legislature reconvenes in late April.