Residents on Liberty Road, bordering the Hartwell Town Forest, recently spotted a bobcat on their home security camera.
Audrey Gould, whose home borders the Hartwell Town Forest, said, “We love checking overnight motion footage to see what kind of wildlife is hanging out in our driveway. Usually, it’s just squirrels, deer, and raccoons, but occasionally something more interesting like a fox. Once we saw a porcupine, and twice now bobcats.”
A bobcat was the visitor early Tuesday morning when the Gould family’s Ring motion camera caught the animal crossing the driveway at 4:54 a.m. The other visit was on Sept. 10. (The Bedford Citizen reported a bobcat sighting at Middlesex Community College in August 2019).
According to Mass Audubon, the bobcat is the only species of wild cat that can be found prowling Massachusetts. (Coyote and fox are more related to dogs, and fisher cats are weasels.) Bobcats weigh 15-to-35 pounds, range from about 2-to-4 feet in length, and are rarely seen.
The felines are polygamous with multiple mating partners; the breeding season runs from February to March. Bobcats are shy around humans, mostly active at night, and hunt and eat a varied diet with a focus on prey mammals such as rabbits. These hunters aren’t limited to smaller animals – they have been documented eating fish and occasionally plants, but also sometimes go after larger meals.
Gould added that “A neighbor woke up this morning to the grisly sight of a deer carcass in her yard – it had been attacked by an animal overnight.” There is a guess that the bobcat caught on camera could be the culprit, although in the classic battle of cats versus dogs, the neighborhood coyotes have been reported as vocal lately.
Mass.gov says that bobcats and coyotes “are an important natural resource in Massachusetts.” Should you happen to see a bobcat in your neighborhood, Mass.gov reports, “Bobcats rarely cause conflicts with human activities.”
The general rule is to leave them alone. If there is some engagement, “Don’t let [the animal] intimidate you. Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten [the animals] with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose.”
They also recommend keeping pets indoors or on leashes and don’t feed wild animals (keep your trash locked up, birdfeeder area clean, and don’t try to make friends by tossing a Big Mac to local wildlife.)