Bobcats are a beloved staple of American wildlife. These mid-sized cats are famously solitary and reclusive. They’re far more intimidated by us than we are of them, too. Staying out of sight is their instinct when it comes to humans, as bobcats fear us as predators. Even for the most seasoned of Outsiders, spotting a bobcat is a rarity as a result.
So imagine Bill West’s surprise when he managed to capture not one – but five – bobcats in one image on his trail cam outside Marietta. The Ohio Outsider’s daughter, Kimberly Murnieks, then posted his image to Twitter where it took wildlife enthusiasts by storm.
“Check out this pic that my Dad caught on his #TrailCam in Washington County on the afternoon of Christmas Eve – five bobcats!” Murnieks captions the remarkable shot:
The trail cam photo is just as remarkable for displaying the incredible camouflage bobcats possess, too. As a mid-sized mammal, bobs rely on such effective camouflage not only to hunt their own prey but to stay hidden from larger predators such as coyotes, wolves, and us humans, as well. And West’s image does a fantastic job of illustrating just how easy it is for these cats to disappear into the forest floor.
Can you spot all five bobcats above? The first few are easy, and trained eyes can see four with ease. The fifth, however, is all but invisible amidst the December’s discarded foliage.
If Bobcats are So Solitary, Why are We Seeing Five in One Image?
If you’re wondering why five of these famously solitary cats are all traveling together in one area, Murnieks has the answer.
“ODNR’s wildlife biologist confirmed that this fantastic image is a momma bobcat & four kittens born in the spring. The offspring typically stay with mom for 9-12 months. Other than that, bobcats are solitary. It’s a wonderful pic – my Dad is amazed at how many people love it,” she adds on Twitter.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has been so impressed by the photo that they’ve shared it to all their social media accounts, too.
” Pretty cool to see 5 bobcats in one pic!” the department captions on their Facebook. “A big thanks to Ohio Office of Budget & Management Director Kimberly Murnieks who recently shared this pic on Twitter which was taken on her Dad’s (Bill West) trail cam in Washington County – Warren Township on Christmas Eve.”
How’s that for an Outsider’s Christmas miracle? Seeing five in one Ohio-based image wouldn’t be possible without ODNR’s conservation efforts, either. The species was all but eradicated from the state (and most of America) by the mid 19th century by fur trappers and bobcat hunters. Thankfully, conservation laws aided their resurgence in the early 20th century and the species has made a healthy recovery across most of their natural range.