The bobcat’s main diet always has been rabbits and hares, but they regularly feed on small birds, mice and other small mammals, too. They prefer dense cover and uneven, broken terrain, which offers them concealment and relief from inclement weather.
I was at a farm on Dunk Hill in Walton one day, shortly after a bobcat killed one of the prized ducks owned by the woman who lived there. It happened right in her yard in broad daylight, so she was extremely upset.
We went skiing at Belleayre Mountain a few weeks ago, right after a blanket of fresh snow covered the mountain. As we rode up the Tomahawk Lift on the western side of the mountain, I could see cat tracks in the snow. He had wandered in from some thick timber and went right up the mountain, checking out every outcropping and downed log available. Obviously he was hunting for a meal before everyone showed up.
So why are we seeing so many of these cats these days? Honestly, I have no idea. I can only speculate it’s primarily due to the available food supply. With coyotes and other predators consuming the majority of the small animals, the bobcat is forced to come closer to civilization to survive. He has the ability to sneak into our backyards and grab a quick, unsuspecting meal.
Another thing to consider is the bobcat’s breeding season runs from mid-February until April. It may be that the urge to propagate the specie has brought the bobcat closer to populated areas.
Right now, the DEC is considering changes in the hunting and trapping season for bobcats in the state. I guess it’s like the bear. To reduce the nuisance complaints from people, they opened hunting season for bears in more areas. It worked. I don’t necessarily agree, but I let the experts deal with wildlife management.
So if you’re lucky enough to see a bobcat in your backyard, enjoy it. They are magnificent animals.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at email@example.com.