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Family of bobcats spotted in Salt Lake, Millcreek neighborhoods

Posted at 9:50 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 23:50:32-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Salt Lake City and Millcreek residents keep seeing a family of bobcats wandering around neighborhoods.

They explained this isn't necessarily normal behavior. Meanwhile, neighbors have been capturing videos of the wild cats.

On Scenic Drive in Salt Lake City, you might see more wildlife than people. Deer, quail and snakes like to frequent the area, neighbors said. Hawks often circle overhead.

But the kind of wildlife they've been seeing lately is a rare treat.

Zoe Tsoutsounis captured video that shows a mom bobcat and at least two kittens running through her backyard on Monday. At some points, it's clear the kittens are in a playful mood.

"They were probably just roaming through looking for food," said DWR spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley. "One of our biologists has speculated, maybe the mother was trying to teach her kittens to hunt."

DWR reports there have been several sightings.

"We're kind of speculating that it's the same family of bobcats traveling through," Jolley said.

And they've certainly traveled through, right across backyards and empty lots.

Deborah Shelton took a video late last week just up the street from Tsoutsounis, showing what appears to be a bobcat mom and her kittens. She thought maybe it was a lynx and said she saw three kittens.

It's not necessarily typical bobcat behavior, according to DWR. Jolley said bobcats are usually out at dusk and dawn.

"For them to be seen in a neighborhood — full daylight, in kind of an urban area — is a little bit more unusual," she said.

What would cause the bobcats to wander into neighborhoods during the daytime?

She said this year, the bobcat populations have gone down. Jolley explained biologists think that's because of a decrease in the rabbit populations, which is the primary food source for bobcats.

"The theory is, when they do come into urban areas, they're typically just looking for other food sources," she said.

It's nothing to be scared of, and Jolley said as long as people keep their distance and keep their small animals inside, things should be fine.

She recommended residents put away items that might attract bobcats, like bird feeders and pet food bowls.

If you do spot a bobcat or bobcat family in your neighborhood, Jolley said to give DWR a call.