Wild Animal Encounters
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Use Caution — Bobcat & Coyote Sightings New
     Preventing Bobcat Encounters
     How to Handle a Bobcat Encounter
     Protecting Pets From Coyotes
     How to Handle a Coyote Encounter

Use Caution —
Bobcat & Coyote Sightings

Caution: Wild animals have been spotted in Lynnhaven, so beware. Always stay alert to your surroundings and keep your pet on a short leash when going out after dark and never let them stay on your screened lanai unattended after dark. 'Tis the season.... A few years back, at least three cats disappeared from their lanais within a few months. A bobcat went right through the screens and the people never heard a thing. There was also a rash of dog snatchings, with coyotes darting out of nowhere and snatching dogs while they were being walked or after following their owner out to pick up the newspaper. It happened so fast that the owners didn't know what was happening or couldn't react in time to save their pet.

Sue Laluk thinks she saw a large bobcat about 2:00 a.m. a couple nights ago and it tore up her downspout. That same night, I heard a sound like someone's house was being broken into about midnight. I looked around the homes where I thought the noise had come from, but everything looked okay and there was no additional sound. As I continued on home, I looked down the street and there were two coyotes just a few houses down and one saw us. Needless to say, I got the dog inside as quickly as possible. This was around Alcott Street and Tatum Terrace.

Preventing Bobcat Encounters

Bobcats are not often responsible for killing domestic animals, but they do kill them. Mostly, they prey on other wild animals. But once a bobcat causes damage for the first time, it gets easier for the animal to do it again.

Where bobcats are a problem, use the following strategies to prevent conflicts:

  • Keep dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn. Left outside at night, small dogs and cats may become prey for bobcats (which have attacked cocker spaniel-size dogs).
  • Feed dogs and cats indoors and clean up after them. If you must feed outside, do so in the morning or midday, and pick up food and water bowls, as well as leftovers and spilled food as soon as pets have finished eating. Water, pet food and droppings attract small mammals that, in turn, attract bobcats.
  • Don’t feed wildlife. This includes deer, feral cats (domestic cats gone wild), and other small mammals. Remember predators follow prey.
  • Prevent the buildup of feeder foods under bird feeders. Bobcats are attracted to the many birds and rodents that come to feeders.

Bobcats can climb, so wooden fence posts or structures that give the bobcat footing and access to an otherwise unprotected pen will not be effective. Bobcats also have the ability to jump fences 6 feet or more in height.

Livestock producers have discovered that scare devices like bright lights, motion detectors connected to recordings of barking dogs or radios will deter bobcats — that is, until they realize that they aren’t life-threatening.

No chemical repellents, fumigants, or toxicants are currently registered for bobcats.

Trapping and relocating a bobcat several miles away usually doesn't work since bobcats typically try to return to their original territories. If they remain in the new area, they may get into fights and are often killed by resident bobcats. Also, moving bobcats won't solve the problem because other bobcats will replace them.

Bobcats are susceptible to the same diseases as domestic cats, and disease can be transmitted between domestic cats and bobcats (or vice versa). This is just one reason to keep your pet cats indoors.

They don't usually attack people and their pets and tend to avoid human interactions.

How to Handle a Bobcat Encounter

The important thing to remember is to stay back. If a bobcat is nearby, just quietly back away and take your pets inside. Do not let your cat or dog outside the house unattended. The bobcat will usually move on very quickly.

Occasionally, we humans will wander towards an area where a bobcat has a fresh kill hidden. In those cases, the cat will act defensively, and show his teeth, snarl at you, and block your path to walk forward. If this happens to you, turn around and walk in the other direction. The cat should not follow you as long as you are going in the opposite direction of whatever he is guarding. As soon as the cat is finished eating, it will move on to a new area.

From time to time, bobcats will climb into a tree and just kind of lie down on a large branch, usually very high up. This is a dangerous situation. Stay inside your home and call your local animal control office. However, when it comes to an animal with the kind of power that a bobcat has, err on the side of caution. Stay away from the animal, stay indoors, take your pets indoors, and call the authorities. Better safe than sorry!

Bobcats are nocturnal and diurnal (occurs every day). There is very little social interaction between other bobcats, who mark territories. Within their ranges, they can travel between 3 and 7 miles nightly, inspecting many objects as they go. Mating begins in December and can extend into June, with the peak in March.

Momma Bobcats are EXTREMELY protective of their young. If you think you see a baby bobcat, do NOT touch it or pick it up! Bobcat kittens are adorable and look like normal kittens, but this is NOT how they act when you pick them up! The kitten will scratch you, struggle, and more importantly — will make noise which is sure to get Mom’s attention. You do NOT want to start a fight with a Momma Bobcat. You will not win.

Protecting Pets from Coyotes

Coyotes can and DO prey on domestic cats and small dogs. Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night, early evening or early morning (dusk and dawn). To protect your pets, do not allow them to roam freely.

  • Keep cats indoors. Free-roaming cats are at a high risk of being preyed on by coyotes.

  • Walk small dogs on a short leash, especially at night, dusk or dawn. Be extra careful if you are going to walk your pet in wooded areas or areas that have heavy foliage, where coyotes could hide.

  • Remove things that attract coyotes from around your home (e.g., pet food and unsecured garbage left outside).

How to Handle a Coyote Encounter

Coyotes aren't large animals and rarely pose a threat to people, especially adults. They can be curious but are also timid and generally run away if challenged. If a coyote approaches too closely, there are methods you can use to deter it and frighten it away.

Hazing the animal by making loud noises and acting aggressively will typically cause a coyote to leave an area, but you may need to increase and continue hazing efforts until the coyote is effectively deterred and leaves the area for good. There are several methods of hazing that are effective with coyotes.     

  • Waving your arms in the air and yelling usually gets a coyote to retreat. You may need to move towards the animal and continue if the animal doesn't immediately run away. It is important to continue until the coyote has left the area.

  • Noisemakers are often effective deterrents to coyotes, including air horns, banging pots and pans and homemade noisemakers. A “coyote shaker” made from placing pebbles or coins in an empty drink container can be an effective noisemaker.

  • Throwing small stones or sticks towards a coyote, but not at it, will usually cause the coyote to leave. Spraying water from a hose and using squirt guns or bear repellent can also be effective. Do NOT attempt to hurt the coyote; an injured animal is more likely to defend itself or its young if threatened — keep your distance.

  • Vary your methods so that the coyote doesn't become desensitized to it.

  • If a coyote approaches a child, the animal can be startled away by an adult yelling loudly first, then moving towards the the animal to give the adult time to lift the child as quickly as possible and back away. Do NOT run from a coyote, as this may cause the animal to chase.

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