Bobcats are occasionally seen walking along the bike paths and trails of Newport’s Back Bay where they reside, breed and raise a new litter of two or three kittens each year. They are even known to stroll across the patios of adjacent homes. Living in a densely urbanized neighborhood presents special challenges for these animals but if they can avoid close contact with humans or being run over by automobiles or bikes they may live in excess of ten years.
One female bobcat called Babe has been a frequent visitor in the area around the Interpretive Center in the past several years, though she has not been observed in the Back Bay for several months now. The last report of her came from a resident living closer to Newport Coast. A bobcat called Vanity is being closely monitored by researchers in the Back Bay as the radio-transmitter collar she is wearing is still sending off strong signals indicating she is doing well. This young bobcat is believed to be a two-year-old offspring of Babe.
Bobcats living in urban areas like the Back Bay have demonstrated much less fear of mankind and in some cases will hunt in plain sight of and in close proximity to people.
Bobcats are carnivores and will catch any small game that does not present a threat to their safety such as rabbits, squirrels, coots or other small birds. Visitors to the bay should never attempt to feed a bobcat or any other wildlife or interfere with their activities in any way.
Healthy bobcats are not considered a threat to man or his domestic pets. However, we need to keep our pets on leash at all times when we are walking in the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. Should a domestic dog or cat get too close to a bobcat’s kittens or corner one, then the bobcat might aggressively defend itself or its offspring.
Like other felines, bobcats enjoy napping and when not hunting that is their most common activity. They will find a sunny spot to snooze in when the weather is cold and may seek shade under a tree when it gets too hot. Naturalists leading hikes along the trails will occasionally look back over their shoulder only to see a bobcat come out of hiding and walk away in the opposite direction just as the trail guests have passed its hiding spot along the trail. Bobcats are truly one of nature’s special creatures.
Dick Newell, Newport Bay Conservancy and OC Trackers