bobcat (Lynx rufus rufus)
This is a medium sized cat with a total length of 24-40 inches and a weight of 10-25 pounds. They have a very short tail, relatively long legs and rather long, loose fur with longer cheek fur forming sideburns. The upper parts are reddish-brown, spotted/streaked with black, and below, they are white spotted/streaked with black. The breeding season is from early January to March, and are probably monogamous. A litter of 1-5 kittens is born in April or May in a lined den. The female defends them strongly, even against the male until about 2 months of age. Both bring meat to the kittens. They have a swift, distinctive bounding gait, and are very secretive. They are nocturnal and have a range from 5-50 miles in diameter. Longevity in the wild is 10 to 14 years. The general trend shows that there must be concern for bobcat in western Virginia due to the rapidly increasing pressure from trappers.
The Barbours Creek section of Craig, Poor Valley in Bland and Tazewell, parts of Augusta, the Alleghany Mountains through Highland, Bath and Alleghany, the Massanutten Range, and parts of Wise, Lee and Scott Counties hold the greatest concentrations but it is present throughout Virginia. This species is generally found in heavily forested/mountainous/rugged terrain, but may exist in wooded districts near farms and human habitation. They show little avoidance of any habitat type except in areas highly developed or with dense human populations.
The bobcat is a primary predator of small game, and only occasionally kills livestock (individual, not habitual predation by all bobcats). They are useful to the farmer since they kill rodents. They take deer mostly in fall and winter just after hunting season (cripples and lost kills). This species is an opportunist, and the more plentiful wild animals become its staple foods.