Spotting a wild bobcat may not be so rare this year, zoologist says

Keep your eyes peeled — bobcat sightings are up compared with this time last year.

Lincoln Weller spotted one while visiting his father in Spry Harbour on the Eastern Shore. It was his first time ever seeing a bobcat. 

"Saw him strolling along, very leisurely walking around," said Weller. "He was only about 20 metres away, didn't seem to notice me. Quite neat to see." 

Bobcats aren't endangered or especially rare in Nova Scotia. But sightings of them are few and far between. 

Weller managed to snap a few pictures before the animal spotted the paparazzi. 

"He looked up at me and stared for a few moments and then darted off," Weller recalled. 

'Positive' numbers

Two years ago, bobcats were struggling to find food. An icy winter led to a high rate of mortality. But Andrew Hebda, curator of zoology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, said the population may be on the rebound.

There have been seven reported sightings this spring. That's four more than last year at this time. 

"I've been at the museum for 22 years and the numbers this year are certainly higher," said Hebda. 

"It's very positive."

The warm weather means more people are out to spot the bobcats, Hebda said. That could result in the high number of reports. 

Sightings should be reported

Hebda also noted a connection to an increase in the snowshoe hare population. More rabbits means more wildcats on the prowl. 

While there is little risk to humans, Hebda said people should keep their distance and report any sightings to the Department of Natural Resources.  

"We shouldn't try to physically interact," he said.

"They are on the shy side — many people may not see one in their lifetime."