“Mountain lions” often turn out to be bobcats

Posted by on Fri, February 6, 2009

© Bob Miller Photography. Used with permission.
A bobcat in Lynchburg, VA.

Many of those mountain lions, which seem to be spotted more and frequently, may in fact be bobcats, reports the County Times.  In the desert, female mountain lions have a range of about 32,000 acres and males about 64,000 acres (100 sq miles).

However, territories in San Mateo County are smaller because food sources are more readily available, Roessler said.

Animals seen in several recent sightings may have been bobcats, which "seem to be less shy" and "get acclimated to people and neighborhoods," even cozying up on porch chairs, she said.

Bobcats outnumber mountain lions in San Mateo County, and may be the actual source of most mountain lion reports, she said.

Lions "need big ranges, and if you look at that, the Santa Cruz Mountains themselves wouldn’t provide much habitat except for a few lions," Roessler said. "If that’s the situation, then the reports we get are either inaccurate or people are seeing the same lion over and over again."

One possible reason for mountain lions being spotted in residential areas could be that they are young, have just been pushed away from their mothers, and are attempting to establish their territory, Roessler said.

In recent years, animals thought to have been mountain lions have turned out to be bobcats, coyotes or raccoons, say police in Half Moon Bay, Daly City, South San Francisco and Millbrae.

Earlier, Darin Boville suggested that a recent mountain lion sighting near Seal Cove was probably a bobcat.

I do suspect what most people are seeing are bobcats.  Most of the time you will only see bobcats in the late evenings or early mornings.  Generally they are very nocturnal animals and very weary of people.  Bobcats usually follow the same paths over and over. So if you see one, chances are if you look in the same place and time the next day you may see the cat again.

I think the best policy is to let them be.  They won’t harm you and this is their earth too.

Comment 2
Sun, February 8, 2009 9:01am
Barry Parr
All my comments

Darin’s video of the Seal Cove bobcat is here: