Road Killed Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

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This photo I took of a road-killed bobcat a few weeks ago seems like an appropriate aftermath to the horrors of Halloween night.  The automobile that ran over this poor feline was certainly a monster from the perspective of a cat.  This bobcat was a beautiful specimen before vultures started pulling away the guts.  I believe it was a large male and in person the coat seemed more grayish than it does in the photo.  If one clicks on this photo to enlarge it, the blow flies are visible.

This is only the second wild bobcat I’ve ever seen and the first road-killed specimen I’ve encountered.  The heavy early summer rains this year were beneficial to the rabbit population and hence bobcats had a good year as well.  It’s an impressive predator, and a Pleistocene survivor (See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/the-bobcat-lynx-rufus-another-pleistocene-survivor/.  The carcass was located on Highway 56 in Richmond County, Georgia 2 minutes north of the Federal Paperboard factory by car.  Now, 19 days later, all that remains is a few tattered pieces of hide.  This is an example of just how rare the process of fossilization can be.  In less than 3 weeks almost nothing of this magnificent animal remains.  Some species of large mammals in Georgia had annual populations in the tens of thousands for hundreds of thousands of years, yet we have very little evidence that they ever existed in the state.  In the entire piedmont region of Georgia there are only a few scraps of bone from deer, bison, mammoths, and mastodons.  There are no carnivore fossils from this region dating to the Ice Age, but we know they must have lived here because there are jaguar and wolf fossils in the mountains and coastal plain, and many more carnivore fossils in South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.  The process of fossilization is simply a matter of chance.

A coyote carcass lay not far from the road-killed bobcat.  I didn’t take a photo of it because road-killed coyotes are more commonplace.  Coyotes are more willing to scavenge road-killed animals while bobcats much prefer fresh meat.  I think this explains why coyotes are more commonly sighted as road kills–they fall victim themselves while scouting for highway carnage.  I didn’t see any road-killed deer along Highway 56 all summer, but suddenly I’ve spotted 4 on this thoroughfare.  It’s hunting season so perhaps spooked deer are running far away from their normal stomping grounds, thus putting them at risk in unfamiliar territory where they don’t expect traffic.

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2 Responses to “Road Killed Bobcat (Lynx rufus)”

  1. James Smith Says:

    I never see a living bobcat in the wild. I have friends out west who see them ALL OF THE TIME. Apparently they are not as worried about humans out there as they are here in the East. I always keep an eye peeled for them…but no luck. I have seen them road-killed.

  2. markgelbart Says:

    Over at the Georgia Outdoor News site message board, they have a trail cam category on the board. Georgia Bobcats are commonly photographed on trail cams set out by hunters who are looking for bucks with super dooper racks.

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