Bonfield bobcat makes late night video appearance

·4 min read

Two nights ago, around 3:30 a.m., Lyndsey Whyte’s video camera captured footage of a bobcat roaming around her property, hovering around the building where her free-range chickens spend the night.

Whyte posted two video clips to Facebook yesterday to notify her Bonfield neighbours. Whyte and her family live on Development Road, “closer to the South Shore.”

The animal’s bobcat identity became a topic of interest on the Everything Bonfield Facebook page. Some see a cougar, others a lynx. Discussion of tail length, ear tufts, and other identifying features have been considered.

The video makes such anatomical identification somewhat difficult. However, the consensus remains—that is one big cat.

Following the discovery of the cat on the camera footage, Whyte reached out to the Ministry of Natural Resources, who have not responded at the time of writing.

She also contacted the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks with the videos, “but from the videos, they couldn’t really get a full picture of what it is, but they assume it’s a bobcat.”

“I think it’s a cougar,” she explained with a laugh, well-aware there are many opinions on the topic of the cat’s identity.

“I have no problems with it being here,” she said, “we’ve had so much wildlife interaction” living in the country in Bonfield, “and it’s been great, we love it.”

And while aiming her camera’s lens to keep close tabs on the chicken coop, a variety of animals have been seen ambling around under cover of the night.

“We keep getting videos of bears, foxes, lots of raccoons,” and now a bobcat—or cougar, or lynx—has been added to the list.

Just recently, Whyte noticed some feral cats—of the smaller, house variety—roaming around. In hindsight, she was happy to have been able to capture them and bring them to the humane society before the big cat arrived.

Whyte is not overly concerned about the late-night wanderings of the cat. “We live in the bush,” she emphasized, “it’s the animal’s habitat, it’s not ours.”

Whyte also detailed how the cat did investigate the chicken coop, and “luckily, we had just changed all the locks” on the door, which allowed everything to sit nice and tight.

Before this repair, there was a slight gap between the door and the jamb, a gap that may have allowed for cougar paws to gain hold and begin its break and enter attempts.

“If we didn’t seal that door right” that very evening, “I’m sure that this animal would have got our chickens.”

The reason Whyte posted was to let neighbours know such cats are around, and with kids waiting for the bus and whatnot, she wants people to remain vigilant, “and just be cautious of it.”

So now that you have been warned, Bonfield, here are some handy tips from the Ontario government as to what you should do if you encounter a large cat, whether it be lynx, cougar, or bobcat.

To begin, all three are known to be shy loners who do their best to avoid conflicts with people.

If you do see one, never approach the animal, “especially if it’s near a kill or with young,” the government adds.

Never offer it food, and do not run, as “a cat’s instinct is to chase,” the government reminds us.

If you are with people, stay together “and act as a group.”

If alone, the government suggests you “face the animal and talk firmly while slowly backing away,” although they do not offer suggested topics of conversation.

If you accidentally find yourself cornering the animal, immediately change tactics, and give that cat ample room to escape.

“Try to appear larger” than you are, and do not take your eyes off the animal or turn your back on it.

If the animal does not flee, “be more assertive by shouting, waving your arms, and throwing anything available” near the cat to scare it away.

For more information on dealing with large cats common to the area, including tips on avoiding conflicts and protecting livestock, be sure to visit the Ontario government’s website.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca

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