By Tracie Hornung
Just as I rounded a bend riding my bike to the wildlife clinic a few years ago, a bobcat dashed across the road. It was gone in what seemed like a nanosecond, but the image of that small but powerful animal has stayed with me.
In my opinion, all cats—wild or domestic—are gorgeous, and the bobcat is no exception.
It’s the smallest wild cat in Oregon—about twice the size of a housecat—but with longer legs, a shorter tail and a more muscular body.
Bobcats are found throughout Oregon, and according to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, bobcats in western Oregon possess more distinct markings than those in the east side of the state. Their lifespan is 12-13 years.
Bobcat territories are established with scent markings, and territory sizes are generally 25-30 square miles for males and about five square miles for females.
Although In the early to mid 1900s, bobcat populations in many Midwestern and Eastern states were decimated because of the value of the cats’ fur, their populations have rebounded with the advent of laws in the 1970s that protected wild cats. Today, populations are stable in many northern states and are reviving in many others.
However, as Defenders of Wildlife states, they are still hunted and trapped for their fur throughout most of their range, and habitat destruction and the ever-expanding human population limit their ranges.
Let’s hope that our grandchildren will have the same opportunity I did of seeing these beautiful cats in the wild.