Living with Wildlife BOBCAT

he bobcat ( rufus) is a round face and pointed ears. Adult female bobcats weigh an medium-sized member of They are found throughout most average of 17 pounds. Bobcats Tthe North American wild of , yet typically go can be various shades of tan and family. Although bobcats are unseen due to their quiet and brown, with dark brown to black one of two members of the lynx solitary ways. However, bobcat stripes, and spots on some parts family found in sightings are increasing as they of the body. The tip of the tail (the other member being the appear to be using urban and and backs of the ears are black. common lynx), only the bobcat suburban settings more often. They have short ear tufts and occurs in California. Bobcats can Adult male bobcats weigh longer fur on the side of their be distinguished at a distance by an average of 21 pounds and head, giving the appearance of their short “bobbed” tail (4”- 6”), measure up to 3 feet in length. sideburns.

1 Bobcat are often confused with other cat species during sightings. If you know what physical traits to look for, you can easily make the distinction between species. • Bobcats are only one- quarter to less than one- half the size of mountain lion. They are generally two or three times as large as a domestic housecat and more muscular and full in the body • The bobcat’s tail is “bobbed” in appearance (4 to 6”) and much shorter than the tail of mountain lions and most domestic .

(CDFW artwork by Sarah Guerere)

FACTS ABOUT BOBCATS snow. Deep snow greatly (mostly young fawns). and Home Range reduces their mobility and • Domestic can become • Rock cliffs, outcroppings, ability to catch prey. bobcat prey if left unsecured and ledges are important to • Home range size can vary with at night including domestic bobcats for shelter, raising quality of the habitat and food cats, small , , young, and resting sites. supply. In where more piglets, small and lambs. Optimal habitat are brushy food is available, smaller home Tips to prevent conflicts are stages of low and mid- range sizes can result. Average found under “Preventing elevation , oak, riparian, home range varies between Conflicts.” 1.8 – 20.7 square miles. Females and pinyon-juniper forests, and • Bobcats hunt primarily by sight occupy smaller range sizes. all stages of . and sound. They spend lots • Large brush or log piles and Food and Feeding Habits of time sitting or crouching, hollow trees or logs can be • Bobcats are largely carnivorous watching and listening. Once used as cover in wooded areas. but will consume a wide variety bobcats locate prey, they stalk • Bobcats may also be active of food sources, even some within short range and then in open fields, meadows and vegetation such as fruits and pounce. agricultural areas where brush grasses. • A bobcat will cover the remains or wooded areas for cover are • Food sources include: mice, of a kill with debris such as nearby. , , gophers, , grass, twigs, snow or leaves. • Bobcats are less frequently amphibians, reptiles and The bobcat will revisit a carcass seen in areas with heavy winter . Diet can include until most of it is consumed.

2 Reproduction and Family captivity, they may live up to 25 bobcats typically limit their Structure years. activity to early dawn, dusk and • Bobcats are solitary animals. • Few predators can kill an adult night hours. In dim light, they Males and females only bobcat, other than see up to 6 times better than associate briefly for courtship and humans. Adult bobcats humans. and . may receive fatal or debilitating Bobcats typically stay within • A litter of 2 to 4 kittens is injuries from other bobcats or an established and typically born between April prey animals. move between resting areas, and July in dens found in caves, food sources, or areas. • Young bobcats are killed by rock crevices, or hollow logs They often travel in predictable , great horned owls, or trees. The den is carefully patterns along logging roads, , , and adult lined with dry leaves, moss or railways and trails made by other male bobcats. grass formed into a shallow animals. Evidence of a bobcat’s depression. VIEWING BOBCATS presence may include tracks in snow or mud, droppings (scat), • Young bobcats disperse when Because of their solitary nature they are about 8 months old. feeding areas, and marks on and caution toward humans, tree trunks. Mortality and Longevity bobcats are seldom seen. They • In the wild, bobcats may live up may be active day or night, but Tracks to 10 years with an average life often avoid daylight activity. In The bobcat track is easily expectancy of 3 to 4 years. In developed areas near humans, distinguished with a round shape,

3 Install a predator guard at least five feet up a tree to prevent a bobcat from accessing Install two electrified wires, 12 and 18 inches above ground poultry or other and onto existing fence posts, poultry pen supports, and other animals from an structures using the proper insulators. A single strand of wire overhanging branch. may be sufficient, but two wires will provide added insurance against the making the climb. Run one or two electrified wires towards the top of the fence to prevent bobcats from jumping the lower hot wires and making the climb. (Drawings by Jenifer Rees.) four toes and no evident remains and frequently return Calls (pg. 5). It is generally twice the to feed on it. A bobcat can only Bobcats rarely vocalize, although size of a domestic cat’s print and reach out 15 inches to rake up they often yowl and hiss during loosely resembles that of a debris to cover the food cache. the mating season, especially or but is more rounded. These marks, and the bobcat’s when adult males compete for much smaller tracks, help the same receptive female. Droppings (Scat) distinguish between bobcat and Bobcats, like most cats, generally lion caches. PREVENTING CONFLICTS cover their scat. They will use Bobcats are sometimes loose soil, snow, leaves or other Scratching posts responsible for losses of poultry, material. When visible, their scat Like house cats scratching lambs, small goats, and can be large and tubular with furniture, bobcats mark their pets such as small dogs and cats. blunt ends like the feces of other territory boundaries by leaving Once a bobcat does damage for cats and some dog species. claw marks on trees, stumps and occasionally fence posts. Bobcat the first time, it is likely that it Feeding areas (caches) claw marks are normally 2 to 3 will repeat the behavior. You can A bobcat will eat the carcass of a feet above the ground; domestic use the following management large . Like a mountain cat scratching occurs at a height strategies on your property to lion, it will cover the carcass of about 1-1/2 to 2 feet. prevent or reduce conflicts:

4 Do not feed wildlife. This from using their weight and Repellents, Fumigants, and includes deer, and claws to gain access. The bottom Toxicants other small . Predators of the wire should be No chemical repellents, follow prey. Bobcats can also be well anchored to prevent it from fumigants or toxicants are attracted to the many birds and being pulled out of the ground. currently registered for bobcats. that visit feeders. Bobcats can climb, so wooden Translocation Prevent the buildup of seeds and Trapping and relocating wildlife fence posts or structures that other organic debris that can causing property damage may collect under bird feeders. provide footing and access to an seem like a good idea and an unprotected pen is not effective. ideal solution. However, this Feed dogs and cats indoors Bobcats also have the ability to is not a legal option. Bobcats and clean up after them. If you jump fences 6 feet or more in preying upon pets and must feed pets outside, do so height. Use woven wire overhead may be trapped but only under during daylight hours. Collect or an electrified “hot wire” to the authority of a depredation food and water bowls, leftovers prevent access. Note: Other permit ( living-with-wildlife). However, and any spilled food as soon as threats may include coyotes, pets have finished eating. Water, they may not be relocated to foxes, , raccoons, feral cats, a different area and released pet food and pet droppings can dogs, opossums, , hawks (they must be released on site or attract small mammals and other and large owls. euthanized immediately). wildlife, including bobcats. Keep livestock and small Aside from not being a legal Keep unattended dogs and animals that live outdoors option, it is not a sustainable cats indoors, especially from confined in secure pens during solution. Bobcats often return dusk to dawn. Left outside at periods of vulnerability. All to their original territories after being relocated – putting them night, smaller dogs and domestic animals should be confined at risk for vehicle strikes while cats may become prey for from dusk to dawn. (Temporary bobcats. or portable fencing keeps Enclose pet birds and poultry livestock together so that they (, ducks and turkeys) can be guarded more effectively.) in a secure outdoor pen and During birthing season, keep house. Bobcats will eat domestic young and vulnerable animals birds if they can access them. Be confined at all times. Avoid using sure the outdoor pen includes a remote pastures or holding sturdy top. To prevent bobcats areas. Remove and secure sick or from accessing birds in their injured animals immediately. night roosts, equip poultry Scare devices, such as motion houses with well-fitted doors. sensor lights, motion detectors Bobcat tracks are similar to To deter bobcats during the day, that make loud sounds when tracks, but only about completely enclose outdoor pens triggered or radios, may also 2 inches in diameter, which is with 1-inch chicken wire placed deter bobcats--until they lose about twice the size of house- over a sturdy wood framework. their fear of the device when it cat tracks. Note the lack of claw marks, which are visible Overlap and securely wire all becomes clear the devices pose in tracks left by members of seams on top to prevent bobcats no true threat. the dog family.

5 crossing highways and busy sightings each year. A sighting California. That same regulation roads while making their way alone usually does not require also established bobcat as a back. Moving a bobcat into a a response by CDFW. However, species that can be taken under strange territory puts the animal CDFW can provide technical the authority of a depredation at a disadvantage as they do not assistance, education and permit. A property owner or yet know where to hunt for food. outreach. CDFW can provide an authorized agent under the It may also create disputes with field response when a landowner permit may take a bobcat on the the resident bobcat that could can demonstrate property result in death for one or both. property if it is harming domestic damage or if there is a threat to animals. A bobcat may be taken Removing wildlife involved in a public safety. CDFW may also in defense of self or another human-wildlife conflict is only respond to collect a sick (disease person. A person taking such a temporary solution. Food monitoring), injured or orphaned action must have reasonable attractants (food, water, den bobcat. belief that a bobcat poses threat site and cover) or access to attractants must be eliminated LEGAL STATUS of imminent serious physical to get to the root of the problem. harm. In California, bobcats are When possible, coexisting with classified as nongame animals The body of any bobcat taken wildlife is the more sustainable under direct authority of a option. and may be hunted during their open season. A tag and hunting depredation permit or for the Professional Assistance license are required. Effective protection of a person, remains California Department of November 2015, recreational the property of the state and and Wildlife (CDFW) receives and commercial trapping of must be reported and provided numerous reports of bobcat bobcats is no longer allowed in to CDFW immediately.


Report wildlife sightings or incidents (including livestock losses) on the CDFW online Wildlife Incident Reporting system:

How to Report

Report a sick or injured bobcat to CDFW: • Northern California 24-hour dispatch: 916-358-1312 • Southern California 24-hour dispatch: 951-443-2944

For more information contact CDFW during normal business hours at: 916.322.8911. You will be routed to the CDFW regional office for your county.

Bobcat Encounters

If you find a kitten in good condition, please do not touch and do not disturb it. If you find a kitten alone in poor condition or obvious distress, do not touch and instead re- port to your local CDFW Office.

More Information

For more information visit the CDFW website:

Special Thanks

This publication was adapted from the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Living with Bobcat brochure. CDFW thanks them for their assistance.