It was another typical delivery day on the paper route on Wednesday, Feb. 5, until this mature bobcat bounded across the road on CTH M, running from Mike and Jenny Lenbom’s property into the cornfield of Mark and Tammy Lenbom. Fortunately, the 20-plus-pound bobcat stopped at the edge of the cornfield and curiosity got the best of him as I snapped several photos of the majestic creature—the first bobcat that I’ve ever seen in the wild, although one or two usually pop up on a trail camera once every couple of years. Overall, Wisconsin’s bobcat population appears to be robust, considering a fall 2019 survey estimated that there were around 3,800 bobcats in the northern region of the state. Bobcats have an orange-tan pelt with black stripes on the face and spots on the body. The top of the tail is black with a white underside. Bobcats have a white chest and belly, but the belly is heavily spotted. These spots and the color of their coat helps camouflage the bobcat in the thick underbrush. Rabbits are the major prey of Wisconsin bobcats; however, cats will also look for sick, injured, very young or old white-tailed deer if a rabbit meal isn’t easily available. They’ll also chase and eat smaller animals, such as mice, voles, shrews, reptiles, birds and even insects. Male bobcats cruise a 25-square-mile area and females only 15 miles in range. Bobcats have their first litter of two to three kittens when they are 2 years old. Kittens are born between April and July in dens found in caves, rock crevices, or hollow logs or trees.

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