Identification of Bobcat Damage


Bobcats are opportunistic predators, feeding on poultry, sheep, goats, house cats, small dogs, exotic birds and game animals, and, rarely, calves. Bobcats can easily kill domestic and wild turkeys, usually by climbing into their night roosts. In some areas, bobcats can prevent the successful introduction and establishment of wild turkeys or can deplete existing populations.

Bobcats leave a variety of sign. Bobcat tracks are about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) in diameter and resemble those of a large house cat. Their walking stride length between tracks is about 7 inches (18 cm).Carcasses of bobcat kills are often distinguishable from those of cougar, coyote, or fox. Bobcats leave claw marks on the backs or shoulders of adult deer or antelope. On large carcasses, bobcats usually open an area just behind the ribs and begin feeding on the viscera. Sometimes feeding starts at the neck, shoulders, or hindquarters. Bobcats and cougar leave clean-cut edges of tissue or bone while coyotes leave ragged edges where they feed. Bobcats bite the skull, neck, or throat of small prey like lambs, kids, or fawns, and leave claw marks on their sides, back, and shoulders. A single bite to the throat, just behind the victim’s jaws, leaves canine teeth marks 3/4 to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 cm) apart. Carcasses that are rabbit-size or smaller may be entirely consumed at one feeding. Bobcats may return several times to feed on large carcasses.

Bobcats, like cougars, often attempt to cover unconsumed remains of kills by scratching leaves, dirt, or snow over them. Bobcats reach out about 15 inches (38 cm) in raking up debris to cover their kills, while cougars may reach out 24 inches (61 cm). Bobcats also leave signs at den sites. Young kittens attempt to cover their feces at their dens. Females with young kittens may mark prominent points around den sites with their feces. Adult bobcats leave conspicuous feces along frequently traveled rocky ridges or other trails. These are sometimes used as territorial markings at boundaries.

Adult bobcats also mark trails or cave entrances with urine. This is sprayed on rocks, bushes, or snow banks. Bobcats may leave claw marks at urine or feces scent posts by scraping with their hind feet. These marks are 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long by 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) wide. Bobcats also occasionally squirt a pasty substance from their anal glands to mark areas. The color of this substance is white to light yellow in young bobcats but is darker in older bobcats.

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