"An Animals Eyes have the Power to Speak a Great Language"
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are one of the most common wild cats in North America, there are an estimated 1,000,000 roaming from Southern Canada to Northern Mexico. They can be found in almost every state within the continental United States. This wasn't always the case though, in the early 1900's these cats were almost non-existent in the Midwestern States. Over hunting and trapping had severely declined their numbers. A bobcats fur was highly prized and contributed to its near extinction in many parts of its range. Laws were put into effect that protected these gorgeous cats and allowed their numbers to rebound. They are now plentiful and common in almost all their range. While trapping and hunting are common practices today, there are laws and seasons in place to prevent their numbers from severe decline.
Bobcats can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including woodlands, and nearby edges, semi arid deserts, swamplands and they have adapted quite well to urban areas. They are commonly seen within the city limits of many large towns and cities. They feed on rabbits and hares predominantly; but they are opportunistic and will feed on whatever food is plentiful in their area, including turkey, quail, pheasant, mice, songbirds, fawns and any other small creatures that they are able to capture. Bobcats are one of the smallest wild cats in North America and typically grow to be about double the size of the average house cat. Males may reach up to 28 or 30 pounds, but that would be on the large size. Typically 23-25 pounds would be more in a normal range for them. Their color may be brown or gray with black tufted ears. They have a speckled underbelly and a short black-tipped stubbed tail (from whence they get their name). Bobcats like most wild cats are solitary and generally only come together to mate. Males and females will locate each other by scent markings and mating generally occurs in winter or early spring. Females carry their litter approximately 8 weeks. The female will secret herself away to give birth and care for her young kittens entirely on her own. She typically will have several dens located in a given area. She will move her kits from den to den as necessary. In about 11-12 months these young kits will be ready to venture out on their own and establish their own territories.
The one pictured here was rescued by animal control in Kansas City and turned over to a wildlife rehabber who specializes in raising these creatures. Bobcats will humanize quite easily, that is to say they will readily adapt to being around humans, making it near to impossible to release them back to the wild. They will have no fear of humans and will recognize them as friends instead of foes. A tame bobcat is a dead bobcat. The one pictured was found in an apartment being raised with a pet boxer by humans. After being turned over to the rehab specialist he was "taught" how to be wild again. I was asked if I could release it, along with two others. I drove to Kansas City with my son and after tranquilizing the cats, we loaded them in separate carriers and I headed north near where I live. We took them to a secluded place near the river at Happy Holler Conservation Area. By the time we arrived they were waking up from their naps. We placed all three carriers on the ground and opened the doors, two of the cats (males) wasted no time in sprinting from the cages. The smallest male ran and darted in and out of trees affirming that this is where he belonged. You could almost hear his heart singing in happiness. The larger male, was much more dignified and simply walked off with his held high in a very regal fashion and none to gracefully slid down the river bank onto the frozen river and disappeared from view. The sweet little female had to be coaxed from her confinement. She was very timid and shy. We finally had no choice but to dump the cage on end and none to delicately force her out. She got the hint and sprinted away. There is no way to describe in words that are adequate the feeling it gives you to return such a majestic creature back to their intended home. Well meaning people try to tame what Mother Nature never intended to be. Remember: it is ok to observe and learn from these creatures,to take photographs and appreciate them in all their glory, but it is NEVER ok to remove them from their natural home and try to make pets out of a creature that is meant to remain free and wild.
A recommended read is "Bobcat Year" by: Hope Ryden. This is a wonderful book written in a fact based fictional content. It is a must read for any animal lover. It can be purchased off Half.com or Amazon.com