Scientific Name: Lynx rufus
Classification: Game Species and Furbearer
Abundance: Common throughout state
Bobcat (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Bobcat kittens (Summer M. Trimble)
The bobcat gets its name from its short tail (about 5 inches long) that is dark above and white below, coloring that may serve a signaling function. The bobcat’s fur is short, dense and soft and is light brown to reddish brown on the back. The underside and insides of the legs are white with dark spots or bars.
The fur down the middle of the back may be darker, and bobcats may be grayer in the winter than at other times of the year. Adult bobcats are about two times as large as a domestic cat, standing 20 inches to 30 inches at the shoulder. Adult weights range from 10 to 40 pounds, with males being about one third larger than females.
Although bobcats are found in a wide range of habitats in North Carolina, wooded habitats of the Coastal Plain and mountains support the largest numbers.
Bottomland hardwoods, young pine stands, swamps and pocosins provide good bobcat habitation in eastern North Carolina. In the mountains, mature forests with openings or early successional forests nearby are favored. Hollow trees, rock piles, brush piles, root masses of uprooted trees or similar sites are common bobcat dens.
The bobcat is a carnivore that favors early successional prey such as rabbits and mice. Bobcats may also consume birds, cotton rats, white-tailed deer, rodents, gray squirrels, raccoons, opossums and snakes.
Bobcats are active year-round and can be active day or night, but tend to exhibit crepuscular (dawn and dusk) activity. Bobcats are solitary except during the breeding season, which usually occurs during February or March.
Learn more about by reading the Bobcat species profile.
2018-19 Trapping Seasons
Because the bobcat population is abundant, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) authorizes a sustainable hunting and trapping season in all regions of the state. Despite declining fur prices, the pelt of a bobcat is still highly valued since the bobcat is a highly valuable natural resource in North Carolina.
Trapping Surveys and Reports
Deer Hunter Observation Survey Results, 2014-2022 (PDF)
2017-2021 Bobcat Hunting and Harvest Estimate Maps (PDF)
2010-2021 Bobcat Hunting Harvest and Hunter Trends (PDF)
Bobcats are very adaptable and will use a wide variety of habitats, enabling them to live close to people. However, due to their secretive behaviors, they often go undetected. While bobcats may appear in close proximity to development, they are generally wary of people and often run away when detected by people. Their presence alone in a neighborhood is not a cause for concern. In fact, due to their elusive nature, it is a rarity to see a bobcat.
Preventing Conflicts with Bobcats:
If you already have a problem with a bobcat:
Contact a Wildlife Damage Control Agent (WDCA), a private individual who charges for his/her services. A list of WDCAs can be found at ncwildlife.org/Trapping/Wildlife-Damage-Control-Agent.
Bobcats can be trapped during the regulated trapping season. Visit ncwildlife.org/trapping for trapping seasons, license requirements and other restrictions. A list of trappers can be found at ncwildlife.org/Trapping/Contact-a-Licensed-Trapper.
Bobcats can be hunted during the regulated hunting season. However, check to see if local ordinances restrict the discharge of firearms and visit ncwildlife.org/hunting for hunting season dates, license requirements, and other restrictions.
The WRC is looking for skulls from harvested bobcats. The teeth collected from skulls helps us determine the age of animals harvested, which is turn helps us track populations.
If you are interested in participating, please see the flier for contact information.
Furbearer Cooperator Flier (PDF 533 KB)
Animal Control Officers and Wild Animals (PDF)
Bobcat Range (pdf)
Bobcat wildlife profile (PDF)