Today, we saw the first bobcat on the WRI property in the 30 years we’ve been here. The closest we had ever come to recording a bobcat on the property was tracks a few yards off the property back on April 18, 2011.
Seeing the bobcat was worrisome. It came walking down the driveway mid-afternoon and sat unmoving beside the garage for several minutes with eyes and ears focused on a small tunnel into the garage just two feet away. Then, it went into a slinky, stalking approach (above) as it rounded the corner of the garage and approached the open door. As it entered the door looking around, it showed the distinctive black and white tip of the tail that says ‘bobcat’ (below). It disappeared into the darkness of the garage for several minutes and then came out the carport door two stalls away. The only way it could get there was through a two-stall long burrow made by woodchucks a few years ago.
I suspect the fox has been using the burrow to escape the cold and wind of the past week or so, and I’ve been hoping she would have pups there for everyone to see this summer. I found no blood and fur in the area and feel doubly confident the fox escaped because I found fairly fresh fox tracks leaving the garage. Also, the burrow has an exit on each end, and I suspect the fox can move faster in the burrow than a bulkier bobcat can. The bobcat seemed to know what it was doing investigating the garage and burrow, making me think it was making another attempt at a capture after coming close earlier.
When I saw the bobcat go into a stalking stance, I could only imagine the terror this much smaller fox would feel. I wonder if the fox will dare to raise pups here now. However, a thought that gives me a bit of confidence is that the fox may have been dealing with the bobcat longer than I realized. I have wondered why the fox spent so much time the last few days looking with eyes and ears focused intently in the direction the bobcat came from. Maybe the fox is not that easily scared off. Earlier in the day, I wondered why the fox was not here to greet me when I drove in and why I did not see the fox at all for the first time in many days. We’ll see if the fox shows up tomorrow or the next day.
The bobcat was exciting to see, but I hope it does not mean no more fox.
Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center
Wildlife Research Institute
145 West Conan Street
Ely, Minnesota 55731 USA