Bobcats and mountain lions live throughout Nevada, but people do not see them as often as other wild animals. That is changing, thanks to wildland fires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in the Silver State.
Bobcats are normally on the move for food and water, but now they are also looking for a place to live.
“If their normal habitat has been burned, they’re going to go travel far and wide in search for new food, new water, and new shelter,” Jessica Heitt, Urban Wildlife Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife said.
Multiple bobcats were spotted in Cold Springs, just after the Cold Springs Fire burned 1,523 acres. Several other fires are either contained or still burning around northern Nevada, displacing even more animals.
Dwayne Huber lives along a mountain on the edge of Lemmon Valley. A bobcat came right into his yard, Sunday.
“He came through like a dog and he wasn’t afraid of anybody,” Huber said. “For my wife and my daughter and her friend, it blew their minds. It’s like a mountain lion coming into your yard, just walking through but it was really pleasant to see one.”
Huber says the bobcat looked like it was in good health and did not look hungry. He thinks it may have come his direction because of the Long Valley Fire or the Cold Springs Fire.
“They’re on the move right now because they’re scared,” Huber said. “They’ve got to find new territory, new places to live, and he just happened to pass through my area.”
Sue Harris lives down the street from Huber. She has not seen a bobcat, but she has seen pictures of the Cold Springs and Lemmon Valley bobcats posted on Facebook.
“We just kind of shared them as a community, out here, just to bring awareness to everybody,” Harris said.
Harris says the neighborhood is on alert, even though they have always known that bobcats live in the wildlands, not far from their homes.
“It’s nerve-racking, a little bit, because there’s so many kids in the neighborhood, so many small animals,” Harris said. “You just kind keep your eyes open and be aware.”
Heitt says bobcats try to avoid people but that does not mean they should be approached.
“These animals are going to be passing through and it’s always something you should be concerned about,” Heitt said. “You don’t want to just go up and start feeding it or caring for it. It is a wild animal. So, be cautious but know that they are going to be in the area.”
People are encouraged to keep water and food where bobcats cannot get to it. Pets and small livestock like chickens should also be in a safe area.
“If you have any source of food in your yard, you always want to make sure that you lock it up,” Heitt said. “Make sure that you don’t have any garbage that’s accessible, fruit trees.”
Some neighbors have also reported mountain lions in the Lemmon Valley neighborhood, but residents like Huber say they expect them to pass through and they don’t expect them to cause any trouble.
“I got advice from another friend of mine that they don’t stay long,” Huber said. “They keep moving. They want to re-establish territory. So, I think he was passing through.”
These bobcats are not the first ones to be spotted this year. In May, two bobcats were spotted in Somersett. Wildlife officials say those were also wandering, but it was long before the fires started. With so many burned acres, other mountain lions, coyotes, and deer sightings could also increase.
Luckily, there hasn’t been very much bear habitat burned.