Urban Bobcat(s) in Glendale
By Monika Smith
A sighting the other day (November 24, 2022) of a female and her kitten on Glenside Drive is not the first time that bobcats have been seen in Glendale. Or for that matter, in Calgary.
This is the smallest of the wild cats in Canada. It belongs to the lynx genus. The biggest difference between lynx and bobcats, and they are subtle, is: lynx tend to be bigger, have longer legs, furry pads on their feet, really long ear tufts, a noticeable shaggy mane and live in forested areas where their prey is rabbits. Bobcats look a bit more like housecats and are found all over North America, including urban areas.
Up to twice the size of a domestic cat, it is recognizable with its short tail, spotted coat and black tufted ears. These handsome cats have found Calgary a good home—plenty of food and shelter, and humans tend to leave them alone. They’ve been able to adapt to urban life. Bobcats, deer, coyotes and magpies have adapted successfully and are well known town animals.
Bobcats recently arrived in Calgary around 30 years ago. They’ve successfully increased their numbers ever since. Calgary is probably the most northerly Alberta city with bobcats. They most likely got here just following their food: rabbits. In Calgary, the native species is the white-tailed jack rabbit (or prairie rabbit), the big rangy one. There are also plenty of feral rabbits—formerly domestic rabbits. Bobcats also hunt squirrels and mice. Unlike the generalist coyotes, these cats aren’t interested in human food. They are obligate carnivores, which need meat protein to survive. However, cat and dog food? That’s a temptation to many critters; so don’t leave these foods outside.
Bobcats are not inherently dangerous to humans. They are cats, so will tend to ignore humans and can be found boldly hunting down prey on a street or taking a nap on fence; or staring through a patio door. As hunters, they are clever ambushers and fast. So, seeing one sauntering through a backyard shouldn’t alarm you. They will dash if they hear a strange noise or sight. They are also curious as cats can be, but a bit of caution and staying well back is a good plan. A good rule of thumb is to keep pets under control and keep a healthy distance if you see one. Don’t open a can of tuna and say, “here kitty, kitty!”
Calgary has created good habitat for bobcats. Here, they can be healthier, have larger and healthier litters and possible live longer than their wild cousins.
In recent years, bobcats and other wild animals are being monitored through 311 calls and camera traps. While these don’t provide actual population levels, that more are seen is an indication that there are just more.
Bobcats are here to stay and are learning to be streetwise and travel when there is less traffic.
If you see a bobcat? Call 311. This information goes to the City’s Parks department to get a better understanding about the bobcats and other wild animals in Calgary or visit: https://www.calgary.ca/parks/wildlife/monitoring.html.
If you have photos you would allow Glendale Community to post on this web site, send any bobcat photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Calgary’s Wild Neighbours, maps and monitoring through Calgary Captures: https://maps.calgary.ca/wildlife/