Bobcat (Photo by Gary Kramer, courtesy of USFWS)
As both predator and prey, life is a fine balance for the bobcats of Quebec's Sutton Mountains. Moving stealthily through the forest, the bobcat searches for mice and rabbits, and attempts to avoid coyotes and other predators.
Bobcat or lynx?
About three times the size of an average housecat, the bobcat is often mistaken for a lynx, and requires careful examination to distinguish it from its northern relative. The bobcat is smaller in size, its legs are shorter and its black-striped and white-tipped tail is longer than that of the lynx.
Where does the bobcat live?
Generally nocturnal, the bobcat is a solitary stalker and requires large continuous expanses of habitat for its survival. It will mark its territory with claw marks, feces and urine. Bobcats reside throughout North America, ranging from southern Canada, to the continental United States and northern Mexico. This feisty feline can adapt to many different habitats, including forests, swamplands, deserts and even urban outreaches.
When does the bobcat breed?
Bobcats breed from winter to spring and have a gestation period of approximately two months. While a mother is still nursing, she will bring live mice to her kittens so they can practice hunting.
What is the conservation status of this species?
Bobcats are an indicator species — the health of their population is indicative of habitat connectivity. Although the bobcat has managed to survive after centuries of extensive hunting and trapping, it is currently threatened by human development and urban sprawl.
What is NCC doing to protect habitat for this species?
The forests of NCC's recently acquired Mount Burnt property, which is located in a wilderness corridor between Quebec and Vermont, the plains of the Missouri Coteau in Saskatchewan and the wetlands of New Brunswick's Musquash Estuary are all excellent examples of intact corridors and provide first-rate habitat for this wild cat.
By working at a landscape level, NCC can protect habitat for all the species that are needed to maintain an area's ecological integrity.