Christopher F. LeBoeuf of North Falmouth has produced live footage of a lynx rufus, after spotting it at his home on Teneycke Hill Road.
It is the first bobcat reported on Cape Cod with confirmable evidence.
Mr. LeBoeuf captured the wild cat on video with his iPhone shortly after pulling into his driveway around midnight on Friday, August 9.
“It was a matter of being at the right place at the right time,” said Mr. LeBoeuf, who was in high spirits after his encounter.
Yesterday, officers from the Falmouth Department of Marine and Environmental Services and biologists from the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife (MDFW) confirmed the video footage to be a juvenile bobcat.
“I’m feeling pretty lucky. That’s not something you see every day,” said Mr. LeBoeuf. “The first thing I thought was ‘that’s no house cat, what in the world is that?’”
The bobcat, which he said was much larger than a house cat, was perched on a rock overlooking his back yard with what Mr. LeBoeuf described as an intense stare. He thought the wild cat might be hunting a mouse and when he flipped on his headlights to get a better photo, the wild cat, to his surprise, stayed where it was. Mr. LeBoeuf thought that the bobcat might have been using his car headlights to help it hunt. It eventually ran off, but not before it was captured on a 33-second video, which is now posted on the marine and environmental services Facebook page.
This sighting is the first of what some wildlife specialists believe could be an increase in encounters.
Laura Conlee, the furbearer project leader for the division of wildlife, said she is excited with the sighting. Bobcats are elusive animals, and while there are reports of sightings, they are very rare.
There was a report of bobcat droppings in Eastham in 2011. In 2008, a car in Carver struck a bobcat, the first report of a sighting in southeastern Massachusetts.
But while sightings are elusive and rare, there has been an increase in bobcat populations across the state, she said. There is also evidence to suggest that they are migrating eastward.
Massachusetts, while it is a densely populated state, has much conservation land, such as Myles Standish State Forest that is beneficial for enticing elusive animals, the specialist said. She also said that, with reports of sightings in New Hampshire as evidence, the bobcat is becoming more accustomed to more urban settings.
It is exciting for Ms. Conlee because bobcats were once native to the Cape before European settlement. As to how this bobcat found its way to the Cape, she said her guess is as good anyone else’s. Bobcats are known to walk along roads and crossing the Bourne or Sagamore bridges would not be out of the question. Swimming across the canal was a possibility as well.
Minimal Danger to Humans
As far as potential dangers, Ms. Conlee does not see a problem. Bobcats generally stay away from residential areas. It is very rare that she receives calls of confrontations between bobcats and domesticated animals such as a cat or dog.
She did say that occasionally, there are reports of disturbances in chicken coops but those are infrequent as well.
Bobcats generally stick to large patches of woods and eat smaller mammals such as rabbits and small rodents, and insects, although if they have the opportunity, they will take a deer, said Ms. Conlee.
But while sightings are elusive and rare, there has been an increase in bobcat populations across the state, she said.
Ms. Conlee and her associates were able to identify the bobcat in the video by the size of the animal and the spotting and barring on the body. The shortened “bobbed” tail shown when the cat turned to leave was a giveaway as well, although not all have the shortened tail.
Adult bobcats weigh between 15 and 35 pounds and measure between 28 and 47 inches in overall length, the males larger than the females.
This sighted bobcat was said to be a juvenile based on its size. Mr. LeBoeuf estimated the size of cat to be 18 to 20 inches in length.
After the initial sighting, Mr. LeBoeuf said that he saw the bobcat a couple of days later, this time racing across the street in front of his car and into his neighbor’s yard.
“I was really excited to see it a second time. I only saw it for a few seconds then, but I knew what I saw.”
The bobcat’s gait, he said, was more of a bounding or jumping than a run, like a household cat might run.
His daughters, Chloe, 14, and Isabelle, 12, were so excited on the first night the cat was spotted, they sat in the car afterward for an hour hoping that it would come back. They also wanted to take a walk in the woods to find it but their father declined.
He said that he was not nervous when he saw the bobcat but mostly excited. One night, though, after the sighting, while walking to get wood for a fire, he said that it was funny but he heard himself whistling and looking over his shoulder as he approached the edge of the woods. He laughed when he made the comment, and said that he might be a little bit nervous.