Part two of our bobcat issue. We are feeding a very hungry bobcat.
Feeding the Very Hungry Bobcat
Monday, February 23. -9*F. I put the beaver and game camera in the JetSled and followed our snowmobile trail into the woods. My first thought on where to place the carcass was a poor choice. It’s not as far from the hen house as I thought. I left the sled and snowshoed around to find a good spot. I needed a clearing, a set of tracks so I’d know where to set up the camera, and a place to leave the beaver that I can see from a distance. I wanted to be able to check the carcass using binoculars.
Set up was simple. The carcass is leaning against a maple coppice. There’s a game camera ten feet away. The bobcat came into the clearing from behind the tree I’ve attached the camera to.
Tuesday, February 24. -15F*. I didn’t note the windchill on these mornings. Knowing doesn’t make it easier. I couldn’t see any signs of the bobcat finding the carcass but there are tracks through my first choice for a site. The tracks leave there and walk directly to and around the hen house and into the pig shed. It looked like the cat tried to jump up to two of the windows.
Is it ever going to stop snowing? The best thing for the bobcat is a crust on the snow that is thick enough to support its weight as it runs so it can start hunting successfully again. This plan of mine does not include feeding this bobcat for long. There will eventually be crusty snow and without the food I’m providing the cat will move on. It won’t be so hungry that it’s desperate. This is a temporary boost.
Think about the number of times you see a bobcat when you’re in the woods. They’re not interested in being around people. The tractor is running while Steve moves snow, we’re riding snowmobiles, I’m snowshoeing daily and I have the dogs out several times a day. No bobcat wants to stick around here. It’s here because it’s struggling. Overall this doesn’t do much to help the wildlife but it makes a difference for this one cat.
“Just shoot it.” I’ve heard that a lot. I will if this doesn’t work. I think the hen house is bobcat proof now but I thought so until the cat got in. Crap happens. I don’t like to kill something I’m not going to eat and I’m not ready to try bobcat backstrap.
Wednesday morning. -3F*. My timing was poor. I looked 100 feet past the beaver in time to see the bobcat disappear into the alders. It’s exciting to see the cat but it’s also a little unnerving. I’m respectful of its power. I’m not going to approach it, corner it (which is impossible) or do anything stupid. There were claw and bite marks on the carcass. I left. There are no new tracks anywhere near the hen house.
I was surprised by how much the bobcat ate in 24 hours. What you can see here is what’s left. It ate the entire inside of the carcass. There are several sets of tracks coming and going; the cat has been here many times. We found four spots where it crossed the road up to a half mile from here so it’s still hunting.
Friday. -13*F. It must have had a full belly. Nothing changed on the carcass in the previous 24 hours. There are no fresh tracks near the hen house.
Saturday morning. -19*F. The difference in the carcass was easy to see with binoculars so I went in. Part of the carcass has been moved but I can’t tell how much. Part of the head stuck out of the snow. There are fractured ribs showing but the cat hadn’t eaten much. There is one set of tracks in and out, and none near the hen house.
Sunday morning. -16*F. Nothing as far as I can tell.
Monday. 13*F. The bobcat was here Sunday afternoon.
The bobcat has not been back since Sunday afternoon. Wednesday’s forecast calls for warmer weather and heavy snow followed by very cold temps again. This should give the bobcat the surface it needs to stop breaking through. I expect the cat to visit the carcass until it’s gone. By then it shouldn’t be so hungry it risks coming into the backyard. We’ll see.