Bobcat on the Homestead

Bobcat on the Homestead

Bobcat on the Homestead

I’ve been waiting for him. Let’s call this bobcat “him.” Could be a female, I don’t know yet. I’ve been waiting for a bobcat to show up. We know they’re here year round but we don’t see them until mid to late February, when it’s been a hard winter or the snow is deep. The blizzard and subsequent storm provided the deep, soft snow. It’s unusually warm so the snow is compacting and dropping but still, I knew he’d come. I set up a bait site a few weeks ago and hadn’t been out to check it in 12 days.

The bobcat wandered through Sunday night and found the site. Something, probably an ermine, chewed the bottom of the onion bag and let the pork trimmings drop in chunks to the ground. The cat isn’t that hungry. It put no effort into reaching up for the pork or the fish hanging 18 inches away.

Preventive Measures

I’ve been waiting so the ducks and chickens are locked safely away in the coop unless I’m outside with them. I go out a little early for evening chores and let them out. The ducks have a bath and the chickens eat a little snow (why do they love snow so much when they’re not thirsty?) and then they put themselves back in for the evening. They might be a little bored but they aren’t unhappy. I’ll buy a half-dozen heads of lettuce and hang them from the ceiling to give them something to do.

He arrived first in the dark. He comes and goes often, was here in daylight on Tuesday, and back again at midnight. I brought more food out Wednesday morning and will check the site from a distance on Friday morning.

Bait Site

Although this is legally a bait site it’s not a site being hunted, and so the site doesn’t have to be labeled. Bobcat season ended February 21. I expected the coyote to stumble upon or smell the bait but to date the bobcat is the only large animal visiting.

Living With Bobcats

We killed the first two bobcats that killed our poultry. It’s our responsibility to keep our charges safe. When the third cat killed two ducks we learned how to live with not one but two cats. These tips should help you prevent attacks and make your homestead less inviting.

  • Bobcats don’t want to be around our homestead. They show up only when the snow is soft and deep, they’re unable to hunt well, the snowshoe hare population dips, and the winter has been long.
  • Put game cameras out and if legal, place bait to hold the cat’s interest in front of the camera. This will help you know what’s there. You can deal with what you know and by knowing, you can take extra measures to keep livestock safe.
  • Keep livestock of all kinds behind sturdy high fencing. Cats climb and canines dig under. Add an angle extension at the top, leaning outside the pen, and bury 12″ of wire to deter digging.
  • Have livestock guardian animals. LGD’s (livestock guardian dogs), llamas and donkeys work well.
  • If it’s legal, feed a starving cat away from the homestead. We thought we’d kill the third cat but didn’t catch it in the act (legal requirement when hunting season is closed). Talk to your game warden or equivalent about what you can and can’t do. It kept the bobcat away from our poultry because it was no longer desperate enough to take its chances.
  • Don’t feed pets and livestock outside.
  • If someone’s up during the night hit the panic button on your vehicle’s key fob or blow an air horn. Bobcats hunt day and night. An active homestead is likely to be comfortable for a bobcat. If you’re not outside, hit that panic button now and then during the day. (We do this for bears.)
  • Scare crows with human scent and clothes that move with the breeze.
  • Have the dogs mark their territory, and you can as well. This bobcat marks its territory under the bait by peeing in the snow.

Bobcat Photos

One camera says January but it’s February. I keep forgetting to change the date when I change batteries.

bobcat, bait, hunting, maine

bobcat, Talmadge, bait pile, game camera

bobcat, Talmadge, Maine, big wild radio

The bobcat moved away from the bait site and picked up the snowmobile trail into the food plot.

bobcat, snowmobile trail, game camera, food plot

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11 thoughts on “Bobcat on the Homestead

  1. I wish I could tell how big it is! Those day shots show how gorgeous they are–what a shame they’re dangerous! I’m having Grizzly Adams fantasies over here. I’m a cat lover and so wish wild cats weren’t, well, wild. But I’m not nuts, I get it, of course you killed the first two. I’m glad you’ve figured out how to live with the later ones, though, and hopefully your strategies will continue to work and everyone can co-exist. They really are gorgeous. Do they growl? Not big enough to roar, right? I guess bobcats and bears just co-exist? Coyotes, too? I never think about these things happening all around us in rural pockets. So interesting. Now I want to see a moose ambling onto the homestead!

    1. I’m guesstimating it to be a mature male. He probably weighs 30 or more pounds at peak, around 25 pounds now. Both of the cats we killed years ago were starving young cats in their first winter. They were dying all around us. Sad, sad winter that was.

      1. I don’t think bobcats growl. They yowl and hiss during mating season. Yowling will send a shiver down my spine in an instant even though I know what it is. We have black bears, coyotes, fishers and the bobcats on our land and as far as I can tell, they get along or avoid each other.

        A moose? On the homestead? Here you go!
        http://alifeinthewild.com/bobcat/

        I thought I’d throw in a bear just because but I can’t find the picture! He was here in October.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, bobcat mating season begins in late winter and kittens are usually born in mid to late March. That may be the reason you are seeing them now. The male will mate ever female in his territory.
    Rita

    1. Mating season will start in the next week or so, and then kits will be born in May. I’m thinking of moving game cameras to the center of our property in hopes of pictures of kits. I’ve only seen them in person once.

  3. We do have lynx, bobcats, & a few cougars in our area as well; though I’ve never actually seen one (here). I recently heard that a horse was killed right close to the yard appx 100 miles north of us… 100 miles isn’t much to a cougar, they have larger ranges than that.
    Our bigger problem is black bears, who are extremely bold, & timber wolves, who are HUGE & fearless.
    A few years back, a TW killed both of our (only 1/2 mile away) neighbours’ dogs in 2 separate attacks. The neighbour tracked & killed the TW on our back 40 – it topped 100lbs (our GSD weighs 55-60lbs). That is the closest to real trouble that WE have had (*fingers crossed); but I figure it’s because our dog is VERY vocal & a guardian presence – there are a lot easier pickings than our place where we have dusk to dawn lights & the dog is setting off the alarm bells. She has a way different bark when there’s a threat than her usual ‘maintenance barking’, & you better believe we take heed when she needs back-up! Again, just fingers crossed because we know the risk is always there.
    Thanks for the article; good info.

    1. There isn’t anything in Maine’s woods that I’m afraid of. Coyotes freak me out because I’ve been growled at and trapped in the barn but in general I’m not afraid of them. Respectful and cautious of everything but not afraid. If we had wolves and a stable cougar population I’d have to seriously consider ever leaving the house alone and probably wouldn’t without a rifle. We do have black bears but they’re so timid they can be hard to see. What a shame to lose domestic animals.

  4. I had a coyote growl at me once as we passed within feet of each one day in Baxter State Park. It was hunting frogs in a swamp when we met. It had no other way to escape to run past me.

    1. I’ve been growled at, too. Kristin and I were brushing horses in the barn one winter night when they started snorting and stomping. We didn’t have a dog with us (didn’t make that mistake again). A coyote stayed between us and the house. I thought it would run off if we went out but instead it growled and sent us back inside to wait it out. I’ve never seen a coyote hunting at the water. That’s quite a treat!

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