Living with a Bobcat

Thanks for the article about the whereabouts of bobcats in Goleta. I take care of an orchard on upper portion of Sycamore Canyon in Santa Barbara, surrounded by avocado ranches and more than 50 acres of neighboring open land with practically no human traffic in most of it. I am witnessing a fine predatory system working, while keeping myself out of the loop.

For the past five years I have been having the pleasure of safe-distance interaction with at least one bobcat that resides on the property. Even the Tea Fire could not persuade her to leave. In my non-scientific opinion, the fact that I do not have a dog is the main reason she chooses this place to reside while exploring the acreages beyond, with very easy access to Los Padres elevations.

In spring I count no less than 50 rabbits foraging all over the property and there are hundreds of gophers, many gopher snakes, raccoons, and skunks as permanent residents and then there are visitors such as deer, coyotes, and more creatures from above; hawks and vultures and owls and dozens of other bird species. Many use my two year-round fountains to drink.

But by late fall, thanks to the bobcat’s and hawks’ appetite, the rabbits are gone. Snakes continue to keep gophers on check under the ground. I continue to hear the owl at night. Yes, I miss having a dog. However, I know if I bring a dog in it will ruin this fine and fragile food chain and predatory system that is functioning so well. Remove one of the predators, or add a dog, and you might disturb the system and have to resort to traps and poisons. I don’t bring in a cat either because I do not intend to feed the bobcat or coyotes. I’m only an observer.

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