Bobcat

The commonest wild feline in North America, the Bobcat occurs in a variety of habitats, adapts well to the presence of man, and is increasing in numbers in some areas—all in sharp contrast to the Lynx, a close relative with which it is often confused. The bobcat stays out of sight, hiding in the thickets and lurking in the shadows. As a result, most people have never seen a wild bobcat and perhaps never will. The animal may look larger because of its fluffy coat. The coat is yellowish brown to reddish brown and somewhat spotted. Its winter coat is more of a grayish color. Bobcats are loners. Males and females stay within their own territories.There they hunt and as they make their rounds, mark the limits of their ares with urine and feces. They seem to respect these scent posts rather than engage each other in deadly combat.

Bobcats range over a large part of North America. They are nocturnal. Their food may be any of a number of animals including birds, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, rattlesnakes, rats, mice, insects, and, on occasion, even fruit. If given a choice, however, the bobcat specializes in catching rabbits which promise it a sizable meal with minimum risk and moderate expenditure of energy.

Females give birth to one litter of 2 to 3 kittens a year, often among a pile of timber boulders at the base of a cliff, in a hollow log or beneath the roots and tangled vegetation of a tree that has blown down. The female alone cares for her kittens. The father is not part of the family.

By early summer, when the kittens are still only partly grown, they begin accompanying their mother on her hunting trips through the night. They have much to learn. By fall, their training ends and they are off to make their own way. This is a critical time and many young bobcats will not be efficient enough as hunters to survive through their first winter, especially if the winter is a severe one. During times of heavy storms the bobcat holes up to wait and for several days and nights it may go without food.

Bobcat
Bobcat

Conservation Status

In the USA, Bobcats are classified as game or furbearers and are subsequently harvested through regulation in 38 States. The species is further protected by continuous closed hunting seasons in nine States. It is classified as a State endangered species and thus fully protected in Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey and Iowa, and classified and protected as a State threatened species in Illinois. Four states use statewide harvest quotas to limit the annual harvest. States periodically review species harvest programmes to account for new findings and current advice from experts in their region.




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