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.
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.
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.
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.
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