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Discover Nature: Bobcats

A bobcat with tan-gray, white, and black-spotted fur, perches on a tree limb in winter sunshine, dappled shade.
Watch and listen for the eerie calls of bobcats in the wild this week. Bobcats play an important role in wildlife communities as predators and scavengers.

This week on Discover Nature, listen for the eerie calls of bobcats in the wild.

Several hundred years ago, bobcats lived throughout the United States. They were largely eliminated from much of the U.S., but are still scattered throughout areas with sufficient habitat. 

On cool fall evenings, listen for their hisses, growls, snorts, and screams coming from the woods. 

Bobcats live in heavy forest cover with underbrush, and rocky outcrops, but can be observed in almost any terrestrial habitat. Bobcats and their dens often have a strong odor, as they mark their territory with urine and feces. 

Historically, they lived mostly in the Ozarks and Bootheel regions of the state, but have recently expanded to the north and west. Within their ranges, they can travel three to seven miles per night. 

As predators and scavengers, bobcats play an important role in the wildlife community, helping to balance populations of rabbits, mice, squirrels, and other small mammals, and clearing the woods of carrion. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) closely monitors bobcat populations in the state. Learn more about Missouri’s bobcats with MDC’S online field guide

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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