Bobcat Scavenging Deer

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Bobcat photographed by trail camera in east-central MA

Bobcat photographed by trail camera in east-central MA

So often I read alarming statements by frightened individuals, that one or another small to mid sized predator kills deer, as evidenced by studies of stomach or scat contents. But those studies tell us what the predator ate, and predators don’t necessarily kill everything they eat. Most are quite willing to scavenge. Such was the case with this bobcat, who happily dined on a road killed deer, which I used to bait a camera trap. Look closely at the photo above, to see the deer hooves in the foreground. All photos were taken with a Moultrie M-880 Low Glow Game Camera

That said, some bobcats do occasionally kill adult deer (more on that later). And while a healthy respect for wild animals is a good thing, it’s also important not to exaggerate their powers. It’s bad enough that children spend so much of their time indoors, mesmerized by electronic entertainment. We don’t need panic stricken parents locking them up to protect them from bobcats, fishers, and foxes. Attacks of these animals on people are extremely rare.

Bobcat examines a dead deer before scavenging it.

Bobcat examines a dead deer before scavenging it.

But back to bobcats. They usually weigh around 12-30 lbs, with males at the higher end of the spectrum, and females at the lower end. The size difference works to the advantage of the species in an interesting way. The smaller female usually hunts only small prey, while the male sometimes hunts larger prey.

Bobcat scavenging deer begins to eat at the large, choice muscles of the rump and thigh.

Bobcat scavenging deer begins to eat at the large, choice muscles of the rump and thigh.

This partitioning of resources, so to speak, allows a male and a female to occupy overlapping territories without competing so intensely with each other for food. And overlapping territories are a great advantage to the species. They make it easier for male and female to find each other during the mating season, and also allow for a higher population density. Essentially, the available habitat can be used more efficiently by the species.

Bobcat pauses anxiously at the deer carcass.

Bobcat pauses anxiously at the deer carcass.

A favorite on the bobcat's menu, cottontail rabbits are abundant at the site of my baited camera trap.

A favorite on the bobcat’s menu, cottontail rabbits are abundant at the site of my baited camera trap.

So what is on a bobcat’s menu? Rabbits, grouse, squirrels, voles, mice, muskrats, beavers, porcupines, and deer, are all represented, with female bobcats focusing on the smaller animals.

So yes, male bobcats have been documented killing adult deer, but probably not enough to impact the deer population. Deer seem to remain abundant where bobcats are common. At least both are quite common in my neck of the woods. A lot of the deer remains found in bobcat scat analyses were probably from deer that were very young, previously injured, or already dead.

On the right, a bobcat walks away from the camera. I think he is carrying a rabbit. Do you agree?

On the right, a bobcat walks away from the camera. I think he is carrying a rabbit. Do you agree?

Source of information:

Shared on: Homestead Barn Hop #153, Natural Living Monday, Tuesdays with a Twist #52, Wordless Wednesday #86, Backyard Farming Connection #74, Wildcrafting Wednesday #131, Down Home Blog Hop #82, HomeAcre Hop #64, From the Farm blog hop, Simple Saturdays #18, Homesteaders Hop #8, Simple Life Sunday #13


Comments

Bobcat Scavenging Deer — 7 Comments

  1. Wow, those pictures are really something! I have heard that before we set up our chicken coop, we are supposed to have a game camera around, so we can see what type of predator we will be dealing with! Then, after we have chickens the camera would also come in handy to see if any of these predators come back and how they are trying to access the chickens. So, we will be looking into a camera similar to yours! A few years ago there was a large wildfire nearby, which flushed out quite a few critters. In a week’s time we saw a bear, a bobcat, 2 mountain lions, numerous deer and rabbits, and what we think was a porcupine! It sure would have been fun to get these on film!

  2. I’m now not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.

    I needs to spend some time studying much more or working out more.
    Thanks for fantastic info I used to be in search of this information for my
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