A primer on the urban bobcat


MONTECITO HEIGHTS — The bobcat, although rare in urban settings, sometimes crosses paths with a surprised Angeleno in their neighborhood. A bobcat was photographed last year in Debs Park, and The Eastsider has received unconfirmed  reports of bobcats in the hills of Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Silver Lake. After another recent sighting in Montecito Heights,  a wildlife expert was invited to give residents a lesson in Bobcat 101.

More often than not, bobcat sightings are false alarms, said Emmanuel Lara,  formerly with the Wildlife Division of the National Park Service,  who spoke at a recent committee meeting of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. But bobcats do roam within the city limits of Los Angeles. They weigh about 15 to 20 pounds and have a striped or spotted coat that is either grayish brown or tan with white, said Lara, who participated in a lengthy bobcat study in the Santa Monica Mountains. Bobcats are shy animals and nocturnal hunters that keep the rodent population in check, he said.

Some other basic information, according to an account of Lara’s presentation, about the animals :

  • Bobcats are very solitary animals.
  • A male bobcat does not allow other males to intrude in its territory, but will allow a female to co- habitate his territory.  They usually mate in December.
  • Females usually bear litters of between 1 to 4 cubs in February. The cubs will stay with their mother for about 12 to 16 months and then will be forced out by their mother to look for their own territory. 

Bobcats, according to an account of Lara’s presentation, don’t pose much of a threat to humans or their pets. Dog and cat owners have much more to fear from coyotes than bobcats.

“There has never been a report a bobcat attacking a human in Southern California,” he said. “They are not dangerous.”

Bobcats, however, do have to worry about humans. At least when humans use rat poison outdoors. The rodents that consume the poison and die outdoors can become part of the bobcat’s food chain, which includes rabbits, skunks, possums, squirrels, gophers, moles, field mice and other rodents.

What do when you encounter a bobcat? Lara said it’s just best to leave the animal alone. “You want to give them space, at least 20-30 feet,” he said.

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.

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  1. An acquaintence’s uncle’s handyman noticed a bobcat in the loo. This person offered the animal frankrfurters, and after some lengthy negotiations, they ended up in a timeshare condo in Vail.

  2. I think that was probably a ‘cougar’ you’re talking about. they love Vail timeshares.

  3. Really? Never attacked anyone in SoCal?


    I know its rare but it does happen.

    What happened to fact checking in the media?

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