Jan 082017

We’re so lucky to live in SMVE where we’re surrounded by open space and can enjoy the diversity of the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. While one member of that fauna, our native white-throated woodrat (aka packrat) can be a nuisance, they serve a purpose in the food chain as prey species for bobcats, coyotes, snakes, hawks and owls.

One of my most memorable Christmas mornings was in 2011 when a mom bobcat left her two teenage kittens in my back yard. My husband and I were entertained for two hours watching their antics–play fighting, cuddling together on our wall, napping and grooming. What photographic subjects they were!

What function do bobcats serve in our community?

Bobcats, like other predatory wildlife, exist to preserve the balance of nature. Wild animals help keep rodent populations such as packrats in check. Communities that attempt to eradicate predators often see an increase in the rodent population, as well as rodent-borne diseases.

What do bobcats eat?

Bobcats eat mostly rodents such as packrats, rabbits, squirrels and less often birds. They’re unlikely to make a meal of your pet because bobcats, like domestic cats, are usually afraid of dogs.

Never trap and relocate bobcats!

If only the mother is trapped and removed, the young will die. If the entire bobcat family is trapped and relocated, often the young are too small to travel with the mother and are left behind to die.

Predator species, such as the bobcat, establish and defend a territory. A female’s territory may be as large as five square miles and females never share a territory with each other. Male territories tend to overlap and may be as large as 25-30 square miles. When a bobcat is relocated to an established territory, the defending bobcat will attack potentially killing, injuring, or driving the relocated bobcat from its new territory. An injured bobcat may not survive because survival depends upon the ability to hunt, capture and kill prey.

Please never kill, remove, poison or injure our native wildlife (except for trapping packrats on your property) without first contacting me at wildlife@smve.org or 520-576-4416 or my husband Ted Forsberg at 520-203-6153. If you can’t reach us, contact a board member before calling a wildlife removal service. See following article on snake issues.

How can you protect pets from bobcats and discourage them and other wildlife from coming into your yard?

  • Bobcats are no threat to humans; they are easily scared away by yelling, clapping your hands, or throwing small rocks at them.
  • Don’t leave pets unattended outdoors.
  • Don’t leave pet food or water outside and remove other food sources, such as fallen fruit.
  • Clean up brushy areas or wood piles and eliminate thick undergrowth in landscaped areas.
  • Always walk your dog on a leash and don’t let it wander close to thick brush.
  • Never encourage or allow your pet to interact with wildlife.
  • Never feed wildlife except birds. And never put poison out for any animal or reptile.
  • If you feed birds, ensure there is no overflowing bird seed on the ground to attract rodents at night.

What if a bobcat has kittens in your yard or on your roof?

Bobcat moms, just like other moms, seek a place safe from predators such as coyotes to have and raise their young. Should that safe place happen to be on your property, they will move on as soon as the young are old enough to travel as a family.

If you don’t leave pets unattended outdoors and the bobcat’s not making a nuisance of itself, why not just reach for your binoculars or camera and enjoy the show? Here at SMVE our goal is to live in harmony with the birds and wildlife around us. Remember, they were here before we moved into their territory.