When taking a late-night stroll through your neighborhood, you might see a wandering house cat or two, maybe a curious raccoon looking for a midnight snack. What you never expect to see is a bobcat devouring a deer right in front of your house.
This gruesome scenario became a reality for one New York State resident earlier this month. However, it wasn’t immediately clear that the large predator in question was a bobcat.
In the dead of night, the only thing the resident felt certain of was that the predator was some sort of cat, its eyes glowing brightly in the darkness as it tore into its latest meal.
Concerned by the presence of the unidentifiable intruder, they contacted the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for help. In response, the DEC set up a trail camera at the scene, hoping to learn more about the “mystery predator,” should it ever return.
As they expected, the cat soon appeared in the driveway once more, unable to resist returning for a second helping of deer. And this time, DEC officials were watching.
Before revealing the predator’s identity, the DEC gave a few hints and asked followers to take a guess.
“The deer was a young female, approximately 80 to 100 lbs,” they explained. “There aren’t many predators in the Adirondacks big enough to take down prey that size.”
“The right front shoulder and the rump were fed upon,” the DEC added. Additionally, “there was a spot on the lower part of the neck, right behind the jaw, that was damaged by the predator during the attack.”
Last but not least, “the predator attempted to cover or “cache” the carcass, leaving scrape marks from its paws in the dirt around the deer’s head.”
How to tell the ‘mystery predator’ was a bobcat
In the comments, many users correctly identified the predator as a bobcat, though a large portion of them were shocked by the animal’s size. Others, however, guessed lynx, mountain lion/cougar, jackalope, and Bigfoot.
Well, jackalopes are mythological rabbits with horns, so we can rule that out right away. And Bigfoot is thought to be bipedal and far larger, so probably not that, either. Unless Bigfoot has actually been a bobcat this entire time.
All jokes aside, though, how can you tell it’s a bobcat and not a lynx or mountain lion?
First, a confirmed mountain lion sighting in New York would be rather shocking. The last verified sighting of an eastern cougar occurred in Maine…in 1938.
There’s a small population in Florida, but they’re almost exclusive to the western states. On top of that, mountain lions are 2-3 times larger than the predator in question.
Okay, what about a lynx? As interesting as it would be to see a lynx population in New York, they’re another extirpated species. There used to be breeding populations in the area but they have since disappeared.
That said, they’re far closer in size to a bobcat than a mountain lion. The average lynx is only about twice the size of a bobcat. So a far better guess!
The real giveaway of the hungry cat’s species? Its tail! The “mystery predator” in the footage clearly has the stubby tail of a bobcat – but not as stubby as a lynx’s. There’s also a relatively healthy bobcat population of about 5,000 individuals in New York State.
Don’t worry, though, they want absolutely nothing to do with humans. Bobcat attacks are virtually unheard of, and there has never been a fatal attack on a human.