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Yellowstone National Park Bobcats

Bobcats are small wild cats with reddish-brown or yellowish-brown coats, streaked with black or dark brown. They have prominent, pointed ears with a tuft of black hair at the tip. Females average 20 pounds and males weigh from 16 to 30 pounds. They breed in late winter or early spring and have a gestation period of about two months. A female may have one to six kittens each year. Although adapted to a variety of habitats across the country, they do not tolerate the deep snows found in much of Yellowstone, and thus they are usually reported in the northern portion of the park. Bobcats move about their home ranges most actively in the hours near dawn and dusk, hunting small mammals such as mice, rabbits, hares, and deer. They seek cover in conifer stands and on rocky ledges.

Bobcats are known to hole-up and wait out severe winter storms elsewhere, but whether they are able to tolerate the severe midwinter conditions of the park interior is unknown. These elusive cats are most active at night, so even those who study them seldom have an opportunity to see one. If you are so fortunate, look for the black bars on the inside of the forelegs. Bobcat tracks seldom exceed 2 1/4 inches in length; lynx tracks usually are longer than 3 1/2 inches.I