Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sneaky Bob

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are a somewhat tricky lot to camera trap around here. 

They aren't really found in the southern part of our fine state, which is where I spend most of my time.  Further north the ol' Bob-tailed Cat becomes more common, but still doesn't exist in very high densities (at least compared to other frequently cam-trapped critters). 

Much like many Felines, they are also very secretive and sneaky.  Slinking quietly through an area, leaving little evidence of their passing, unless one is lucky enough to find some tracks.

But we finally caught up with this Sneaky Bob!

Earlier in the Spring, the students on the wolf project had a few quick glimpses.

You have to watch this first video clip in its entirety....he/she doesn't show up until the very to the far right.

In this second video clip, which is several minutes after the one above, we basically get a second.  The 'cat is now on the far left and appears to be spraying a stump before moseying on.

In late July, however, we got a better clip of Sneaky Bob.

I haven't put alot of thought into it, but I do wonder why this species doesn't take to the more populated areas in the southern part of our state?  Especially considering that out west they have acclimated to urban edges in parts of California (e.g., Santa Monica), Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.

I suspect these urban 'cats have access to some pretty rugged habitat immediately adjacent to the edge of Santa Monica (for example), which makes crossing over into the urban sphere pretty easy.  At the same time, we have lots of rural and sparsely populated areas 'round here.  Lots of "green space" and public natural areas....seems like there would be plenty access to the more southern parts of the state. 

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that some of the states listed above have more arid environments.  Thus, the 'cats are drawn into the well-watered greenspaces/lawns (and associated rodents) in urban areas.  We aren't as dry here, but neither is Dallas/Fort Worth, and Bobcats apparently end up there.

Perhaps its only a matter of time?


  1. GORGEOUS! But, I'm still glad it isn't in my woods.

  2. Lovely kitty! Almost a year ago is when I got my first and only bobcat in the woods behind the house. Hoping for him again! I've been reading that any kind of minty scent will lure them in.

  3. Definitely are tough for me to get on camera also. I've been camera trapping for going on six years and still don't have one on camera. And they're fairly plentiful in my area.

  4. Hopefully it is only a matter of time. I think it would be great to have those cats patrolling the woods.

  5. Surprised they're so uncommon out there. As you've seen, we get them pretty regularly if in the right habitat. Are they still hunted and trapped in your state? And what about the use of rodenticides to suppress moles, gophers grnd squirrels and like? Those can take a heavy toll on bobs.

    Since the Codger's out of town, I'll also throw in the answer to your video question. He's shooting most of his new vids at HD quality, and the lower res pieces at 640x480. He then puts the clips together in iMovie and exports the final version in as large a size as he can - typically at least 640x480 - which he then embeds from youtube so he can maintain the large size (since blogger doesn't do those large sizes).

    1. Hey RT!

      Well, it's strange.....I'm not sure why we have so fewer 'cats than you seem to have out west. I guess, they are not considered uncommon statewide, per se. They aren't protected and have open seasons on them, but I don't think they are a particularly popular game species here (at least nothing like White-tailed Deer and Bear).

      I think they naturally exist in low densities (compared to other sympatric species that get cam-trapped)....but what I really don't get is why we have them in the northern parts of the state, but not the southern parts....

      The explanation could be in the intesity of agriculatural activities in each region. While it appears they deal with urban landscapes, I've read they don't deal well with active agriculture (which we have a large supply of down here compared to up north). I'm assuming that you have more open, un-tilled or grazed land there than we do. That's a big assumption on my part, but I'm envisioning the open range with not a person for miles that I see in movies :) Around here, if it's not protected/public land, it's in agriculture or developed.

      They are always generally reported to prefer "woodlands"....but seems like you all find them alot in open habitats over your way (from what I glean from your posts). There's probably alot of plasticity in their habitat preferences, so I wouldn't *think* the fact that we have less woodlands down here would be that big of a deal.

      Maybe the amount of agriculture is the answer? There is probably rodenticide applications associated with the ag as well (although I do a fair amount of small mammal trapping here and we are not hurting for rodents).

      Probably someone has worked all of this out already and I just haven't found the report yet....but it seems like an interesting mystery! :)

    2. The bobs are in the woodlands and chaparral here, too. Not in the ag areas, plains or deserts. So I'd agree with you, that they'll be rarely seen around ag, unless there's also mixed woodlands with rabbits and squirrels and like. Then they'll also use the grasslands to hunt voles and gophers and grnd squirrels. But in those areas, where woodlands and ag connect, we're seeing problems with rodenticides. Not because the poisons are reducing the rodent population too much for the bobs, but the bobs are dying as they eat the dead rodents and the poisons build up and suppress their immune systems. It's very worrisome.

  6. Awesome clips! I've never seen a bobcat in my area before, or in the wild for that matter.