Bobcat (Lynx rufus)



General: Bobcats weigh 15 to 30 pounds. They have a short tail, black ear tufts, and fur that varies from light tan to dark gray-brown. Because bobcats are active mainly at night, people rarely see them. These furtive cats prey on small mammals, especially rabbits and hares, and sometimes take prey as large as white-tailed deer. Bobcats live across North America in a wide variety of habitats. In eastern North America, they favor a mix of forest, thickets, and open fields. They prefer young forest and shrublands with dense undergrowth, habitats that support good numbers of the creatures on which they prey.

Status: Bobcats are considered Species of Greatest Conservation Need across much of their eastern range. Scientists believe that population declines stem largely from the loss of young forest and shrubland. Habitat fragmentation is also a threat: when bobcats must cross roads when moving from one habitat area to another, they may be killed by vehicles.
How to Help: Bobcats benefit from land management practices that protect large areas of woodland and periodically produce good-sized patches of young, regrowing forest. Clearcut logging (also called even-aged timber harvesting) is an excellent and cost-effective way to make valuable habitat for this species.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

Both public and private landowners can make young forest habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute. Visiting a habitat demonstration area is a good way to increase your chances of seeing bobcats and other young forest wildlife.