It is not often that we have the distinct pleasure of viewing an animal as beautiful as a Bobcat from our porch, but this week I had the rare opportunity to do so. Most often to see a Bobcat you would have to make a visit to your local zoo, and then you would be seeing an animal in a caged environment. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and a wild Florida Bobcat paid me a visit, right in my very own backyard.
When Kili and I are taking our walks I usually let him decide where we are going. Oftentimes he likes to walk to the edge of the Inlet At Sebastian property where we live in Sebastian. We then walk on the east side of the nature preserve, along the two natural ponds that sit right in front of the preserve. This is where we had the otter siting earlier this week.
Since Kili is a little guy he likes to walk along the edge of the long hedge that has been planted separating the nature preserve from the ponds. I always keep Kili on his leash even when we are near the preserve to keep him from wandering off into the preserve. I think he would stay very close to me but the preserve is off limits for us.
For some reason Kili did not want to take the path which ran next to the preserve so we walked back home on the street that leads into our complex. As we were nearing the steps getting ready to take the stairs up, I looked over from the sidewalk and realized that there was a very large Bobcat sitting in the hedge row that we usually walk by. There is a place where a shrub has been taken out and the beautiful cat was sitting there watching us. He was a beautiful species and as we moved he continued to watch us from a distance. I’m sure he would have not made himself present had we walked down the grassy path, but I was also thankful we did not have to test this theory. I think I would have had the beegeebers scared out of me had we come right up to this very large cat.
The bobcat was listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which means it is not considered threatened with extinction, but that hunting and trading must be closely monitored. The animal is regulated in all three of its range countries and it is found in a number of protected areas of the United States, its principal territory. Estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed bobcat numbers between 700,000 and 1,500,000 in the U.S. as of 1988 with increased range and population density suggesting even greater numbers in subsequent years; for these reasons.
In 2007, the U.S. petitioned CITES to remove the cat from Appendix II. Populations in Canada and Mexico remain stable and healthy. The IUCN lists it as a species of “least concern”, noting that it is relatively widespread and abundant.
Bobcats occur throughout the contiguous United States – with the exception of Delaware – and in a variety of habitats – from bottom land forests in Alabama to arid deserts in Mexico, and from northern boreal forests in Canada to the humid tropical regions of Florida. Though wide-ranging, its distribution is restricted in some locations, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.
Most causes of bobcat mortality are human-related; legal harvest and vehicle-caused mortalities are most common. Bobcats skins are the most common bobcat item in trade, accounting for 92% of CITES-recorded bobcat trade from 2002 through 2006. Other parts and products that are traded include whole bodies, carvings, claws, feet, garments, leather products, plates, skins, skin pieces, skulls, skeletons, specimens, tails, teeth, and trophies. The bobcat is legally harvested in 38 states of the United States. In Canada, bobcats are harvested from 7 of lower Canadaian regions, where the bobcat is traded almost exclusively for its pelt. In Mexico, bobcats are primarily game species, and exports are restricted to trophies. I much prefer to just think of the Bobcat as being free to wonder in nature, but then again, I am not big on hunting – thank goodness I am not married to someone who likes to hunt wild animals. Geoffrey would rather feed them and let them run wild and it is just one more thing that we agree on!
I feel very fortunate to have seen a Bobcat this week in the wild. We seem to get a burst of energy each time we are blessed with a gift of nature near our door step. pkp