Bobcat Sightings On The Rise
By KCRMA Trails Ranger Peter Marozas
The Rangers have been receiving a rash of calls reporting bobcat sightings in Heirloom and surrounding neighborhoods. Bobcats primarily go near your home because they are attracted to a food source and/or shelter opportunities that present themselves nearby. This is normal activity due to the fact that bobcats favor foothills, canyons, mesas and plateaus, where brush and woodland areas provide suitable habitat. This is also the time that bobcats are looking for a den to breed their young, which happens in late winter and spring.
How do you identify a bobcat? Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are roughly twice as big as the average housecat. They have long legs, large paws and tufted ears similar to those of their larger relative, the Canada lynx, which have been recently released in Colorado. Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a white underbelly and short, black-tipped tail. The bobcat is named for its tail, which appears to be cut or bobbed.
What do you do if you come in contact with a bobcat? I know seeing a bobcat is a truly amazing moment. The best thing to do is to enjoy them from a safe distance as to not put yourself or the bobcat in danger. However, if you feel threatened, the next step would be to haze them. Hazing, not harassing, is defined as an activity that humanely makes bobcats and other wildlife more afraid, instilling their natural fear for humans. You can do things such as use noisemakers, bang pots and pans, yell, wave arms and run toward them to try and deter them from returning to the area. We stress that you do not harass bobcats or any wildlife. The winter months are stressful on wildlife especially as the snow accumulates and wildlife find it difficult to get around. Harassing would include feeding, trapping, domesticating or shooting.
What do you do if a bobcat is frequenting your backyard? To keep bobcats away from your home, try to eliminate all food and water sources they may have access to. Similar to feral cats, if bobcats are continuously fed, they will continue to come around your home. You should also consider blocking off shelter-like areas, like bushes, thickets, hollows, rooftops, attics and the space underneath decks, where bobcats may set up a residence.
Preventative measures you can take to avoid conflicts with bobcats are:
• Make sure there are no food attractants near your home or in the area, i.e. bird feeders, pet food, trash, etc.
• Feed your pets inside or remove uneaten pet food between feedings.
• Keep your pets in a secured enclosure.
• Close or patch openings in fences.
• Keep shrubbery, grass, weeds, etc. trimmed to deny bobcats cover.
• Work with your neighbors and local wildlife officers to achieve a consistent solution to the situation.
As our cities and infrastructure of the Front Range and throughout the state of Colorado grow, new and expanding subdivisions and developments have a major impact on wildlife and wildlife habitat. Wildlife is usually displaced by development whereas other species such as coyotes, bears, mountain lions and bobcats, are able to adapt and live in nearby open spaces, parks, drainage ways, creeks or rivers.
In most cases, people and wildlife can coexist without conflict. The most important key is to respect wildlife. Most dangerous conflicts and encounters happen because people choose not to respect and leave wildlife alone. If you are having a wildlife conflict that poses or could possibly pose immediate danger for the animal or humans in the area, please call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office enforcement agency at 303-297-1192.