Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Bobcats are infrequently seen in the wild, but they are all around us. Users of Rose Canyon in San Diego occasionally see them, but views may be fleeting. The cats are mostly nocturnal, but can be seen in daylight with some luck. Evidence of bobcat presence is readily available to those who know what to look for. Tracks, scats, and scrapes are 3 good ways to verify the presence of bobcats. In December of 2019, I deployed a trail camera in Rose Canyon, at a spot with abundant scats and scrapes. Over 10 months, I've identified three bobcats using this spot, dominated by the cats known as 'Pirate' and 'Tuning Fork', named for recognizable patterns on the inside of their legs. Scientists can use this form of 'photo-identification' to estimate population sizes and survival rates of dolphins, giraffes, whales, manta rays and many other species. In the video below, 'Pirate' is seen creating a scrape after urinating. As Pirate exits the area, she/he rubs its left cheek on a branch in an action known as 'scent-marking'. This is a form of communication to other bobcats, which could mean "This is my territory." or "I am available for romance!" Between Jan. 1, 2020 and Oct. 1, 2020 'Pirate' and 'Tuning Fork' have each graced the camera 10 times. In one video at the end of this blog, Tuning Fork is seen carrying a brush rabbit. I look forward to getting to know these cats better through time.
Here is a classic bobcat scat and scrape from Rose Canyon. The scrapes, as shown in the video, are performed with their hind feet. Two parallel scrapes can be seen, where the head of the animal was to the right and the pooping end to the left.
Another scrape in the same area. The bobcat was facing left, as evidenced by the debris piled up near the 13-inch mark of the ruler.
Some lovely bobcat tracks from Rose Canyon, where a cat stopped at the lip of a now-dried puddle to drink. The two front tracks are seen side-by-side where the animal paused.
Close-up of a front-left track of a bobcat also shown in the above photo.
Some more night time activity from 'Pirate'.
'Tuning Fork' carrying a rabbit.