Very large bobcat spotted in Wilton yard
Wilton resident Justin Anderson captured footage of a bobcat wandering through the yard of his Old Highway home in the early morning hours of July 25.
After losing three chickens, Anderson said, he set up a Havahart live animal trap and installed the camera to monitor it on Sunday, July 21.
Since then, Anderson said, he’s seen “dozens” of raccoons and fox, but was not expecting a bobcat.
“When I first saw the video I thought, ‘Wow, that’s big — maybe it’s a mountain lion,’” Anderson told The Bulletin.
Anderson said he had never seen a bobcat before but heard “lots of stories about them in the area,” and decided to post the video he captured to the Facebook group Wilton CT 412 “to see what people thought.”
His post drew more than 70 comments from residents — some guessing a mountain lion due to its size, and others guessing a bobcat — a “very well fed” one, as one person wrote.
According to Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), the bobcat is not only “the most common wild cat in North America,” but it’s “the only wild cat found in Connecticut.”
A second pair of eyes can be seen on the left hand side of the video, which led some Facebook group members to suspect a second bobcat was also in Anderson’s yard. That, however, was not the case, Anderson explained — it was a raccoon caught in his trap.
As for the loss of his chickens, Anderson said, he doesn’t believe the bobcat is the culprit.
“I don’t think the bobcat had anything to do with the chickens,” he told The Bulletin. “I am pretty certain it was raccoons, as there have been lots of those, and a couple of foxes.”
According to DEEP, bobcats in Connecticut prey on cottontail rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, white-tailed deer, birds, and sometimes insects and reptiles.
Connecticut’s bobcat population faced extirpation up until 1972, according to DEEP, when unregulated exploitation was halted and the animal was reclassified as “a protected furbearer with no hunting or trapping seasons.” The state’s bobcat population has since recovered, according to the DEEP, and the animals are “regularly observed throughout the state.”
There have been five reported bobcat sightings in Wilton so far this year, according to Wilton Animal Control Officer Chris Muir, making it the second-highest number of reported sightings in the last nine years.
According to Muir, the number of reported sightings in Wilton from 2009 to 2017 were:
- 2009: 2.
- 2010: 0.
- 2011: 1.
- 2012: 12.
- 2013: 2.
- 2014: 0.
- 2015: 1.
- 2016: 4.
- 2017: 2.
The five 2018 sightings include the bobcat on Anderson’s property, as well as one seen five days later on Liberty Street, said Muir.
“I received a voicemail this morning regarding the bobcat in the homeowner’s backyard chasing a wild hare,” Muir told The Bulletin on July 30.
To determine bobcat abundance and distribution in the state, the DEEP’s Wildlife Division initiated the Bobcat Project in 2017 to investigate bobcat habitat use in different housing densities in Connecticut. The Wildlife Division worked with local trappers to live-trap bobcats between fall 2017 and early-winter 2018 and mark them with yellow ear tags. Biologists also collected data from each cat including their weight, age and sex.
Fifty of the live-trapped cats were also fitted with global positioning system (GPS) collars — all of which were programmed to automatically detach from their neck on Aug. 1 of this year. Any state resident who finds one of these collars is asked to contact DEEP at 860-424-3045 or firstname.lastname@example.org so the Wildlife Division can recover them.
Residents are also asked to report bobcat sighting in the state to DEEP by recording observations at Naturalist.org or through the iNaturalist smartphone app, emailing email@example.com, or posting to facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife. People are asked to provide the date and specific location of the sighting, number of bobcats observed, if ear tags or collars were visible on the cats, if the sighting was captured on a trail camera, and any additional comments or contact information.
Click here to learn more about bobcats in Connecticut.