Bobcats are the most common wildcat found in North America. Some species, such as the Mexican bobcat, are listed as endangered in the United States. Nearly one million bobcats live throughout the contiguous U.S., and hunting practices vary from state to state, with some allowing for regulated hunting and others declaring the wildcat to be a protected species. Solitary and mostly nocturnal, bobcats rarely come into contact with humans.
While they don’t disturb homes, bobcats still cause problems due to their dietary preferences. White-tailed rabbits and hares are favored prey, but bobcats also target house cats, poultry, small pigs, and even lambs, especially those kept on farms and private property. Since they are opportunistic feeders, bobcats will go after more easily obtained prey, and the possibility for repeat offenses increases after a bobcat attacks a coop or pen the first time. This puts property owners in danger of an aggressive encounter with bobcats.
The best method of bobcat control is altering the surrounding environment to make it less favorable to the predators. Simple things like not feeding local wildlife such as deer or feral cats, keeping birdfeeders well-maintained, feeding domesticated pets indoors, and not letting dogs and cats outside during the night can lessen the possibility of bobcats being attracted to the property.
To protect poultry and livestock, house these animals in bobcat-proof pens. As bobcats can climb and jump fences up to 6 feet (nearly 2 m) in height, homeowners should consider electrified fences and other unconventional options. Furthermore, where bobcats could climb a tree to gain access to pens and coops, homeowners should install predator guards.