Bobcat - Highly elusive & adaptive, thriving in nearly all counties of WA State
Bobcats can be found in virtually all parts of Washington State. While usually not seen, they’re moving into suburban areas more and more. It is not uncommon to find them in urban neighborhoods of Kirkland, Woodinville, and other Eastside areas.Their fur can be anywhere from orange, brown, or even silverish in color. This wide range of possible colors provides excellent camouflage and surely contributes to their excellent ability to hunt many different kinds of prey. Bobcats primarily survive on a variety of wild small game such as rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice and other small mammals. However, they are absolutely fully capable of taking down adult Deer!
In the most urban areas capable of holding steady Bobcat populations, they are even preying on pets, mainly small dogs and cats. Some people have even reported Bobcats watching/stalking small children in backyards from trees or on fence posts. That is absolutely an instance where a wildlife control company/trapper needs to get a call! In Washington State cage traps are almost always used and usually a meat based bait is placed to lure the Bobcat(s) in. Hazing or preventive measures usually do not work with Bobcats because they’re oftentimes the apex predator in an urban area and become accustomed to human scent, noice, etc. In comparison to Coyotes, it is easier for Bobcats to conceal themselves and remain unseen; especially due to their ability to climb trees unlike canines. Furthermore, Bobcats generally cover their “scat” (feces) with soil, leaves, or other natural debris. This can make their presence extremely difficult to detect. Rarely the scat is not covered but if so, it will simply just appear as normal dog or cat feces (even to a trained professional wildlife control specialist/trapper). Besides definitive camera evidence, one of the only signs that show Bobcats (or Mountain Lion) are around is the scratching of posts or other landmarks. They usually do this to show their dominance and confirm to other critters they’ve been in the area. You can find these scratch/claw marks on a wide variety of surfaces and generally approximately 2-3 feet off the ground.
There are a few good strategies for avoiding wildlife conflicts with Bobcats. One of the most efficient methods is to make sure pets (especially small dogs & cats) are kept indoors at night. As previously mentioned, Bobcats are nocturnal animals and they’re almost always hunting while roaming, very rarely turning away an opportunity to make a kill. This is why chicken coops are a very favorable hunting spot for Bobcats. A coop full of birds, not properly sealed up, is a very easy target. If access is granted to a coop, a Bobcat can gain access and decimate all of the chickens in just a few minutes. Turkey, qual, pigeons, and other cooped/penned birds also fall prey to Bobcats pretty often. 1 inch chicken wire wrapped/secured tightly all the way around to a sturdy wooden pen is the best way to keep predators out. From then on, regular checking and maintenance to any spots that could potentially become accessible to predators is the best way to keep chickens or other birds and potentially avoid conflicts with predators.