UNDERSTANDING BOBCATS IN THE GRANITE STATE: A cooperative project led by the University of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department

 

Looking for Bobcats?

Although secretive, bobcats can be detected where they live. As you’ll notice from our Photo Gallery, many people are using trail cameras to get pictures of bobcats and other wildlife. If you don’t have a trail camera, there are field signs that may reveal the presence of a bobcat.

Tracks
With snow on the ground, tracks can be a fairly reliable indication that there is a bobcat hunting your woodlot. With a little practice, you should be able to differentiate tracks of bobcats from other New Hampshire carnivores, including coyotes and foxes. As the pictures and figures below show, bobcats have very round feet compared to wild canids. Coyotes in particular have oval feet, even more so than your pet dog. Also, the claws of a bobcat, like those of house cats, are retractable and usually aren’t visible in the track (click on the images below for a larger view).

BobcatTracks Bobcat Tracks 2
Tracks in Snow Bobcat Tracks in Snow 2
Photo of bobcat tracks in Shelburne, courtesy of Ginger Lawson.   Photo courtesy of Ginger Lawson.

In addition to shape and size (house cat tracks are much smaller), the stride of a cat is usually shorter than that of a coyote. If you have the opportunity to track a bobcat and coyotes or foxes, you are likely to see some differences in their respective behaviors. Foxes and coyotes will often walk along logging roads for considerable distances, whereas bobcats will often just cross them. On the other hand, young bobcats may walk on top of fallen trees and logs whereas foxes and coyotes won’t.

Scats
Bobcat droppings or scats can also provide evidence. However, scats are much more variable in size, shape, and odor. There is a tendency for bobcat scats to be more segmented and often have a blunt (rather than tapered) end (click on the image below for a larger view).

Scat Comparison

 

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Graph of food habits Scat Comparisons Bobcat Tracks 1 Bobcat Tracks 2 Size of tracks Tracks in Snow