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Bobcat cubs!

BFS Manager Stephen Dreher reports the following:

We’ve had an extraordinary event at the BFS (or what I also like to call the Claremont Colleges living natural history research center).

First, a little background. For the past two or three years a bobcat has made its presence known to many, not only at BFS, but at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and neighbors on the north and east of the station (see a photo here). I first saw the bobcat when it was sleeping on oak leaves atop the old aviary outside my residence.

One of our adjoining neighbors, Jim Heuter of Abilene Way on the north end of BFS, informed me a few months ago that he was sure he had seen two bobcats. He had only spotted them separately, but was convinced, based on size, that there were two. I remained skeptical, awaiting further confirmation. Generally, we get only fleeting views of these mostly dawn and dusk active animials.

Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a large bobcat several times. Others also report seeing it, all sightings along the main entrance road.

Yesterday, Sunday the 21st, I was outside my residence tossing a few nuts to some ground squirrels when they all scattered in alarm. The scrub jays took off quickly too. Then, appearing from the side of my residence was a bobcat, walking calmly past, within 10 feet of me. There was no doubt at all this animal was smaller than the one I had been viewing along the roadway. She then disappeared into the bushes right in front of my place and came out, large ground squirrel in jaw.

As I saw her emerge and walk toward the outdoor classroom I noticed what I first thought to be large ground squirrels or something too stupid to escape. Yet, as I focused in I realized it was TWO BOBCAT CUBS!!! It was hard to believe, but there they were. The trio walked slowly south before I could grab my digital and get a photo.

The little ones appear very recently weaned, too small to run fast, a bit clumsy and unsure of themselves. Mother is teaching hunting technique, no doubt. The cubs wean for 8-12 weeks, so they are anywhere from 2 to 3 months old now. They depend on the mother usually for a period of several weeks to as long as two months. Average lifespan of a bobcat is 12 years in the wild, sometimes up to 16. In captivity they have been reported to live as long as 30 years.

We will be trying to grab photos while we can, including using a remote digital cam with motion sensors, placed in suspected active areas.

Pretty exciting for a piece of “vacant, undeveloped” land.

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