Friday, February 05, 2016

Tracking Bobcat

Bobcat - Lynx rufus 

The track below shows both the larger front foot and the hind foot. The front feet are larger and have five toes but only four register. The fifth is higher up and only used with climbing. The hind feet have only four toes. The nails are usually retracted but the photo shows a possible claw print on the third toe of the front foot. Claws are not usually seen with ordinary walking but might be deployed with running depending on the terrain. The tracks below were not from a running Bobcat and a nail print is unexpected. The rear margin of the front and hind palm pads is trilobed. 
Snowshoe hare are the primary prey in this region and I often find the snow tracks of both animals in close proximity. Bobcats are sprinters.They generally do not attack unless they are within 10 meters of the quarry. Unless the prey can be captured within 3 to 18 meters, a Bobcat will usually abandon the hunt.

The Bobcat tracks below were in deeper snow and illustrate a normal walking gait.
Canada Lynx - Lynx canadensis is a similar species that is slightly larger, with longer ear tufts and a shorter tail with a full black tip. The fur is thicker, especially on the feet, adaptations that make sense for the more northern and mountainous range. I found the Lynx paw below during a hike around Banff. There were no other remains nearby. I presume that the paw was discarded from a Lynx that was trapped and killed for the pelt. 
The Bobcat below was in Glenmore Park. Notice the shorter "bobbed" tail, which is the reason for the name. 

Naughton, Donna. The Natural History of Canadian Mammals. U of T Press. 2012. 

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