E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Lynx rufus (Schreber, 1777)
Family: Felidae

© Alex Bodden  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #110668)

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Distribution of Lynx rufus in British Columbia.
(Click on the map to view a larger version.)
Source: Map courtesy of the Province of British Columbia (2008).

Species Information

The Bobcat is one of three wild cats found in British Columbia. It is a small, short-tailed cat "about the size of a Brittany Spaniel" (Hatler et al. 2008). Its fur is short and dense (Hatler et al. 2008), and colour is usually tan to grayish brownwith a reddish tint. There are black streaks on the body and dark bars on the forelegs and tail. The ears are large, pointed and black-tipped with short black tufts, and there is a noticeable 'ruff' of hair on the face below the ears and a rim of white fur around each eye (Hatler et al. 2008).

Males are larger than females. In British Columbia, adult male Bobcats range in length from 83 to 98 cm and females from 73to 90 cm (Hatler et al. 2008). Males weigh from 7.3 to 16.6 kg and females from 5.0 to 9.8 kg (Hatler et al. 2008).


Bobcats typically live to six or eight years of age (sometimes ten), and research has shown that establishing a home range is necessary for breeding (Wikipedia 2011). Severe winters are difficult for Bobcats because of the deeper snow, and research has shown that they are susceptible to starvation, which may be an increased factor in mortality in the northern portions of their range (Hatler et al. 2008).

Bobcat kittens are born in April or May and weigh from 300 to 600 grams (Hatler et al. 2008). Litters range in size from one to six young (usually two). Within three to five months the kittens begin to travel with their mother. and they begin to hunt by themselves by the fall.

Bobcats prey on a variety of prey, and this varies from region to region. In northern regions, the main prey is the Snowshoe Hare. However, the Bobcat is an opportunistic predator and if Snowshoe Hares are scarce it will take other prey.

Bobcats are generally most active at twilight and dawn, although they may be observed during the day and they become more diurnal during fall and winter (Wikipedia 2011). They are mainly solitary, although home ranges may overlap.


The Bobcat prefers woodlands—deciduous, coniferous, or mixed—but unlike the other Lynx species it does not depend exclusively on forested sites. In winter, it is primarily found in lowland mature forest habitats (Hatler et al. 2008). British Columbia has the largest amount of Bobcat habitat in Canada (Hatler et al. 2008).


Global Distribution

The historical range of the Bobcat was from southern Canada, throughout the United States, and as far south as the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and it still persists across much of this area (Wikipedia 2011). Its range, however, has been affected by habitat loss and it is now thought to be extirpated in many areas, but still present in others. For example, "While thought to no longer exist in western New York and Pennsylvania, multiple confirmed sightings of Bobcats (including dead specimens) have been recently reported in New York's Southern Tier and in central New York. In addition, bobcats sightings have been confirmed in northern Indiana, and one was recently killed near Albion, Michigan " (Wikipedia 2011).
Distribution in British Columbia

The Bobcat occurs in British Columbia at the northern limit of its range in North America. Its distribution in the province is limited by climate and severe winter with deeper snow (Hatler et al. 2008). This restricts its occurrence to the southern portion of the province, northward to about the center of the province, exclusive of the coast (Hatler et al. 2008). In coastal areas, Bobcats are found "from the Fraser Valley west to the Sunshine Coast, and north to abut Bute Inlet (Hatler et al. 2008).


According to Hatler et al. (2008), two subspecies of Bobcat are currently recognized in British Columbia. These are: 1) Lynx rufus fasciatus (coastal to Bute Inlet), 2) Lynx rufus pallescens (south-central BC north to Prince George). For futher information see Hatler et al. 2008.


Hatler et al. (2008) indicate that "the most important issue in Bobcat conservation in BC may be maintaining winter habitat. In the Kootenay area in particular, there are many competing human uses for the lowland mature-forest habitats used by wintering Bobcats."

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2017. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 21/06/2018 1:13:24 PM]
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