Lake Carroll, Illinois — Here kitty kitty. A phrase many of us have uttered at least once or twice in our lives. But what do you do when that kitty isn’t a kitty afterall?
What do you do when it’s a huge Bobcat instead? Well, naturally you reach for your smart phone and grab as many pictures of it as you can. Then, you get out of its way.
And that’s just what happened to one person last month in Lake Carroll.
An area Realtor was leaving one of her showings at the end of February this year and just as she was about to leave, a Bobcat decided to walk across the road and hang out by the house. She couldn’t believe what she was witnessing.
Bobcats were almost eliminated from Illinois by the mid 1900s, but now are found statewide. Bobcats belong to the Felidae family. They are approximately 2 ¼ to 3 ½ feet in length, including the tail, and can be up to 2 feet high at the shoulder. Adult males can weigh up to 40 pounds but average 22 pounds; adult females are smaller and weigh slightly less.
Bobcats have yellowish to reddish brown fur with black spots and streaks throughout. In winter, the fur tends to be more grayish-brown. The fur on the underparts is white with dark spots. Bobcats have a ruff of fur extending from the ear to the lower jaw, tufted ears (usually), long legs, and a short tail (4 to 6 inches). The tail is whitish underneath and brown above with dark bands and ending in black with a white tip. Bobcats have 5 toes on the front feet and 4 toes on the rear feet.
Almost extirpated from Illinois by the mid 1900s, they were protected as a threatened species in Illinois from 1977 to 1999. Today, they can be found throughout Illinois but are more common in the southern third of the state. That’s why seeing one in Lake Carroll was such a shock to many who heard the news.
A study by Southern Illinois University estimated that about 2,200 bobcats existed south of Interstate 64 during 2000. This grew to about 3,200 bobcats during 2009. Numbers of bobcats continue to grow elsewhere in the state, especially along major rivers.
Bobcats are typically quiet animals, but occasionally growl or make high- pitched screams. During the breeding season they may also vocalize using squalls, howls, meows, and yowls. Male bobcats are solitary animals; the young of the year stay with the females from spring until fall. Bobcats are active from a few hours before sunset until dawn.
Bobcats can be carriers of feline distemper and rabies. Feline distemper is not known to be transmittable to humans. Rabies can be transmitted to humans and is generally fatal if not treated quickly.
In Illinois, bobcats are protected as Furbearers. If a bobcat is causing a problem contact an IDNR district wildlife biologist. Bobcats may be removed under authority of special permits when they are causing damage, but are otherwise protected by continuous closed seasons.
Here are some other sightings of Bobcats in Illinois caught on video