Bobcats in CT: Size & Population (Are They Dangerous?)
The bobcat population in Connecticut is on the rise, which has led to a recent flurry of sightings across the state. This has sparked safety concerns for both children and pets alike, but are these concerns justified?
This article will cover everything you need to know about bobcats in CT, including where to find them and how to avoid confrontations. We’ll also touch on whether or not bobcats are dangerous, and what to do if you see one.
How Big are Bobcats?
If you have domestic cats, you’ll probably be caught off guard when you see a wild bobcat. Bobcats are 2 to 3 times larger than house cats, with males weighing up to 40 pounds (which is roughly the size of an average Connecticut coyote).
You can spot a bobcat from its “bobbed” tail and muscular build. They are usually the same color on their back and sides with some faint spots. Their bellies are generally white.
Bobcat Population in Connecticut
Since there are no mountain lions in Connecticut, the bobcat is the only wild cat found in the state. The estimated population of CT bobcats is around 1,500, but that population is growing every year.
Bobcats have no natural predators in Connecticut, so they’re able to reproduce quickly. But, this wasn’t always the case, as bobcats were facing extinction in CT until 1972.
The species was considered a threat to livestock and deer, plus their pelts have some value. There was even a bounty placed on bobcats for nearly 40 years.
The animal’s comeback can be credited to a hunting ban, along with improving forest conditions. Today, bobcat sightings have been reported in every town in Connecticut. That goes for both rural and urban areas.
Although you may not notice them, Connecticut’s DEEP Wildlife Division has traced bobcats with GPS collars into city centers like Hartford and New Haven. The cats normally stay hidden on the treeline, taking cover in shrubs.
With that being said, the largest concentration of bobcats is currently found in the towns on the Litchfield County-Hartford County border.
Are Bobcats Dangerous?
Bobcat attacks on humans are extremely rare, but they do occasionally prey on domestic animals. Domestic cats, small dogs, chickens, and other small livestock animals are at the greatest risk.
Connecticut bobcats typically eat rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, birds, and woodchucks, along with young white-tailed deer.
The few reported bobcat attacks on people that do exist usually occur because the animal had rabies. But, again these reports are not the norm.
Most healthy bobcats hide or simply run away when they see people, however, you should never try to pet a bobcat.
If you’re concerned for the safety of pets, you should know that bobcats are the most active around dusk and dawn. They travel alone, unless they have kittens, and tend to hunt areas with thick cover.
How to Deter a Bobcat in CT
Although many people think that bobcats live in the woods, they are known to select habitats close to human development on purpose. For this reason, it may make sense to take precautions to deter bobcats away from your yard.
Here are a few things you can do to keep bobcats off your property:
- Clear vegetation to reduce hiding spots.
- Do not leave pet food outside.
- Never leave small pets unattended outdoors.
- Ensure bird food doesn’t sit too close to the ground. Bobcats will hunt the birds while they are feeding.
- Install fencing that is at least 6 ft in height and extends 1.5 ft below ground level.
- Install motion-activated sprinklers or lights.
If you see a bobcat in your yard, a loud clap or yell is enough to spook it in most cases. If you have a serious bobcat problem, you can call animal control or Connecticut’s Deep Wildlife Division.
Are there Lynx in CT?
Connecticut’s bobcats are largely harmless to people, but what about lynxes? A lynx is basically a larger version of a bobcat (although, technically a bobcat is a type of lynx). The largest lynxes can weigh up to 70 pounds, which is quite a bit bigger than a bobcat.
While both a bobcat’s and a lynx’s behavior is mostly passive, a lynx can become dangerous to humans if cornered. Since a lynx is bigger than a bobcat, it certainly poses more of a threat.
Fortunately, there are no verified reports of lynx in CT. Bobcats are the only species of wild cat that roam the state.
Connecticut Bobcats – Final Thoughts
Although Connecticut’s bobcat population is growing every year, it should not be a cause for concern. Bobcats are only a threat to small pets and livestock, but even those attacks are rare in CT.