By Eric D'Aleo, Naturalist
We’ve had a few sightings of a new visitor to the Science Center’s property over the past several months. A stealthy, elusive bobcat has been around but we were unaware of it. The first sighting that came from our trail cameras was last fall when a series of three photos were taken. It was late at night and the bobcat was walking through the brush, resulting in a blurry, black and white image, but it was definitely a bobcat!
This was exciting, since it was the first recorded image of the feline since we put up the cameras in January 2016. The second photo capture occurred in early December. The images were still blurry but they were in color! The animal had been out late in the afternoon in the same brushy ecotone area where it had been spotted earlier that fall. Once again, it was an exciting discovery but one that seemed unlikely to repeat itself. Then this past January, the cameras recorded a third sighting of a bobcat deep in the woods on our property.
The animal looked to be the same size as the animals in the previous photos, but there were no easily identifiable markings on its body to match it with the previous sightings. Again the sighting was during the day, late in the afternoon. Bobcats, it seems, are most active about three hours before sunset until about midnight and then just before dawn until three hours after sunrise. This fit the pattern of the animals in the photos. The animal was definitely on the move. I assume it was in search of prey. Our most recent camera record is from a March evening but from a different forest location. It seems our property may be part of a resident bobcat’s territory, which can range from 1 to 12 square miles. The size of the territory depends on food availability, the season, and if the animal is male or female. Male bobcats tend to have larger territories than females.
Our property and the surrounding area provide habitat a bobcat uses with brushy areas, old fields, forests, rocky areas, and wetlands. It will be interesting to see if the animal(s) continue to visit during spring and summer or only show up in the colder months. We will have to wait and see.