The bobcat (Felix rufus) is one of Yellowstone’s most elusive and least studied inhabitants. Due to the bobcat’s solitary nature and nocturnal activity, no research has yet been conducted to determine the park’s population numbers, and just fifty reported sightings have made their way to park officials since the 1940s.

With females averaging twenty pounds and males weighing in from sixteen to thirty pounds, bobcats are small creatures featuring yellow-brown or red-brown fur streaked with black splotches. Bobcat’s paws rarely exceed 2 1/4 inches long, and visitors are lucky if they glimpse bobcat tracks. Despite their elusive nature that forces them to steer clear of Yellowstone’s numerous visitors, bobcats are fairly well-suited to Yellowstone’s terrain. The park’s stands of trees and rockyåå ledges provide the bobcat with its ideal shelter, and bobcats’ favorite prey of mice, rabbits, hares, deer, and birds populate Yellowstone in abundance. The only negative Yellowstone conditions affecting the bobcat are Yellowstone’s deep snows and frequent harsh winter weather. As a result, most of the park’s bobcats are suspected to inhabit Yellowstone’s drier northern corridors.

Any visitor who does encounter a bobcat or spots bobcat tracks is encouraged to contact a park ranger immediately. Every observation counts in gleaning additional information about this mysterious Yellowstone inhabitant!

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