Thursday, May 31, 2007

As Promised, The Bobcat

We started seeing bobcats in our yard in September 2005. Their appearances were sporadic. The short time they spent here was a means to an end, merely a footpath to wherever they were headed. We enjoyed seeing them, as their presence was always fleeting, just a quick glimpse of something very wild.
Lately that has changed. This young bobcat seems to have adopted our yard as his own territory. We've seen him four times in ten days: in the light of bright sunny afternoons, in the evening at dusk rolling around in a bare dusty patch on the edge of our lawn, and at night crossing the yard close enough to the house to turn the motion sensor lights on.
On Tuesday, the bobcat spent enough time prowling around that I saw it hunting, watched it flush a rabbit from under a cedar tree, attempt to pounce on it, but miss it by a mile! It stuck its nose into the lupins behind the bird feeder, sniffed around the flower beds, and then headed out through the our wild lupin and daisy field to the fence. We watched it make its way by watching the flowers sway as he passed them by.
We assume that this is a fairly young cat, and does not know yet to be fearful of humans. In fact, after he saw me the first time on Tuesday, instead of running out of the yard, the way all the other cats have done, he hung out, and then took a very nonchalant stroll. That fearlessness will not serve it well even in a rural area such as this. So, Roger and I are going to attempt a little aversion therapy and discouragement. The first thing Roger intends to do is to mark our perimeter territory by leaving his scent along the fence. He will do that the old-fashioned way by urinating. We know this works for keeping canines away, we're not quite as sure about felines. I may do a little research about that. We also never make a sound when the bobcat is in the yard. Our approach has always been not to scare it. I suspect if there is a next time, we will not hesitate to convey our presence in a way that will make him feel less welcome. Some obvious noise, maybe banging on pots and pans, or perhaps playing a recording of the sound of a coyote or wolf.

We like this cat very much. You can see he's quite a beauty. But we no longer feel completely at ease in the yard right now. He's obviously too small to be able to hurt us seriously, but he could certainly inflict some damage, if he felt the need. And, he could easily kill our cat. We had been feeling safe letting Bonsai outside when we're out, but even that does not seem safe at the moment.
So now you know our plans. Hey, I didn't realize our Bachelor Buttons were blooming until I saw this pic. Gives you some idea of what size he is.

The close-up of the cat's face was taken through the screen on our slider. That's why the photo looks soft focus. I think he was registering disappointment that he hadn't caught the rabbit.

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