With the new trail system that has been created in Highland, new and exciting adventures abound. Allowed access to explore what nature has to offer, you are likely to encounter many of the fascinating creatures that call the Inland Empire their home.
One of those animals is the bobcat, Lynx rufus.
It is not uncommon to see this animal in your neighborhood.
It is an unassuming animal at first glance. You might mistake it for an ordinary house cat.
Its tawny brown and grayish coat allows the bobcat the perfect cover to walk undetected through our desert landscape and local forests.
The bobcats have long legs that are spotted and have black uneven stripes on the inside. From the back, the white patches behind its tufted ears and its trademark white and black tipped bobbed tail are sure signs that this is no ordinary cat.
Bobcats are two times the size of a house cat. This wildcat can weigh up to 30 pounds.
The bobcat’s large padded paws with retractable claws enables it to travel and hunt in stealth mode.
These animals have learned to adapt to the encroachment of civilization on their habitat.
The ever-elusive bobcat has been seen on some of the streets and walking along cinder block walls in Highland’s neighborhoods.
“I’ve seen bobcats and coyotes walking down my street,” said Highland resident Ed Callihan. “I have coyotes show up right below my yard almost every night.
“The bobcats and coyotes just mind their own business and move through the yard or down the road. Afterall, they were here first.”
Callihan lives in the foothills of Highland, where there is much open space for those large mammals to roam.
Bobcats are typically crepuscular. That is, they are active at dawn and dusk.
However, they are known to be diurnal, active in the day.
Their diurnal behavior typically occurs in the fall and winter seasons.
I have seen bobcats hunting near the 3 o’clock hour in the afternoon in the groves of Mentone.
Having a varied diet, bobcats prefer to hunt birds, rodents (squirrels, voles, gophers), geese and fowl.
In the winter, bobcats have been known to stalk and kill resting deer.
They also prey upon domestic cats and dogs. Bobcats will even eat insects.
A quiet hunter, the bobcat relies on the element of surprise when it stalks its prey.
Once it zeroes in, it squats and hunkers down like a typical house cat, shifting its hind quarters to get ready to pounce. As if having springs in its paws, it leaps in to seize its quarry.
Without seeing its prey, I have witnessed a bobcat spring over a large juniper bush to grab an unsuspecting squirrel.
Bobcat kittens are usually born in spring. The young will usually venture from their concealed den within a month of being born.
Personally, I believe that the bobcat is a fascinating and needed addition to the landscape of the flora and fauna that exists.
It is one of apex predators that helps control the population of other animals, that if left uncheck, could explode and disrupt the life cycles of other plants and animals.
Our neighborhoods are now part of their habitat.
They walk our streets and continue to thrive in our suburban environment.
They, like the coyote, have proven to be resilient animals that can coexist with humans.
If you get an opportunity to see this mysterious cat, it is not difficult to possibly catch your breath as it stealthily fades from view.