Do you know how many bobcats are estimated to be living in the United States? It’s a surprisingly large number, and increasing rapidly, with bobcats living in almost every state in the country. In this article, we’ll be exploring the population of bobcats by state. Let’s learn how the bobcat population varies from state to state and how factors like habitat, hunting, and human expansion contribute to population patterns.
U.S. States with Bobcat Populations
We’re going to talk about bobcat populations in each state at present and throughout history and dig up some fun facts about the bobcats that live in their respective states. First, let’s acknowledge where we know bobcats don’t live.
3 states that do not have bobcat populations:
- Alaska – this wintery state has never been a part of the habitat range of the bobcat
- Delaware – bobcats were extirpated from Delaware by 1850 due to the destruction of their habitat in the state.
- Hawaii – bobcats have never lived in Hawaii; in fact, no large cats are native to the island state.
Bobcat Populations in 47 States
Outside of Delaware, Hawaii and Alaska, the remaining states not listed in the above table do have bobcat populations, but we were unable to find any numerical estimates.
The precise population of bobcats in Alabama remains a mystery, but there appears to be quite an ample number. Bobcats are typically timid, nestling themselves in wooded areas, semi-deserts, urban fringes, forest boundaries, and swampy lands across Alabama. In addition, you can hunt bobcats all year without a bag limit in Alabama.
Bobcats, while a very common species in North America, are not found in Alaska. The climate of Alaska is too harsh for this species to survive. Bobcats prefer more temperate climates with more vegetation, and they can often be found living in woodlands or swamps.
According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, bobcats are common throughout Arizona at all elevations, especially in the Sonoran desert. It is estimated that there are between 3,000 and 7,000 bobcats living in the wild in Arizona.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has reported that bobcats are thriving in the state. Each year, from September to February, hunters may employ dogs for both day and night hunts within certain regulations set by the AGFC; these standards ensure a safe population of bobcats without compromising their safety or decreasing their numbers.
Bobcats can be seen all across the state in many different landscapes and are an essential part of the Arkansas ecosystem.
Estimates from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggest there exist between 30-50 thousand bobcats across all 58 counties in the Golden State. From sprawling mountain ranges like Santa Ana to smaller protected areas such as regional parks, bobcats play an important part in regulating Californian ecosystems.
Bobcats are widely distributed throughout Colorado, with an approximate population of 12,000. Though sightings are not common, bobcats can be found in foothills and canyons across the state. They tend to avoid humans but have been known to interact with them more frequently due to a decrease in prey density and habitat availability.
Bobcats are an integral part of the Connecticut ecological community, largely credited with the decline in rodent populations in the Nutmeg State over the last few years. Their population is currently estimated to be around 2,000.
At the beginning of the 19th century, bobcats were a common sight throughout Delaware. By the mid-1850s, rapid destruction of their habitat and hunting drove them out completely, leaving no trace until recently when there have been scattered sightings here and there. Bobcats remain an extirpated species in Delaware.
All 67 counties in Florida are home to bobcats, taking shelter amongst the saw palmetto and thickets of dense shrubland. Although there are no definitive numbers on their population estimates, a 2010 study suggests they have been rising consistently across the lower 48 states where they inhabit. Interestingly enough, these creatures haven’t been seen for decades on any of Florida’s Keys islands.
Georgia is home to a steadily increasing population of bobcats, the only wild cat species endemic to the state. Weighing up to 40 pounds each, these majestic cats are considered fur-bearers and can be legally trapped from December 1 through February 15 with no daily or seasonal bag limits set in place.
Hawaii is known for its unique wildlife, but one animal you won’t find there is the bobcat. Bobcats are not native to Hawaii, and in fact, there are no felines of any kind native to the Hawaiian Islands. This is because when the islands were first formed, no larger predatory mammals existed in Hawaii. As a result, wild cats were never able to make their way to the islands and establish themselves as part of the local wildlife.
In recent years, however, unidentified big cats have been spotted lurking in Hawaii. State documents indicate that lynxes, ocelots, pumas, and other wild cats may be present on the islands; however, bobcats have yet to be confirmed as part of this population.
In addition to these wild cats, feral cats are numerous in Hawaii, presenting a problem for the ecosystem of the islands since cats are not native to Hawaii.
Even though it’s difficult to accurately gauge the exact number of bobcats in Idaho, current research suggests robust and increasing numbers. These wild cats are commonly spotted throughout the state, most often near shrub-steppe areas, riparian zones, as well as mountains and foothills that provide plenty of cover for them to hide.
Bobcat hunting is allowed in Idaho from late November through March 15th. Trappers have permission (with a valid trapping license) to set up traps or snares for no more than five animals each year.
By the mid-1900s, bobcats had been driven to near extinction in Illinois. Nevertheless, due to conservation efforts and protection as a threatened species, their population is now flourishing with an estimated 5,000 individuals present today. The Illinois Bobcat Foundation proudly supports these initiatives and endeavors for greater biodiversity in our state!
Inhabiting every county in Indiana, bobcats are the only native wild cat. Estimated to number around one thousand, they can most frequently be spotted roaming throughout the southern and west-central regions of Indiana; however, their population is growing rapidly up north as well.
Due to conservation efforts and habitat protection, the population of bobcats has seen a resurgence in Iowa. As estimated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there are between 4,000 and 6,000 bobcats living across the state.
In light of the dense population in the southern half of Iowa, the DNR may allow the hunting of bobcats as they are no longer endangered animals. To guarantee that hunting stays renewable, each individual would be restricted on how many bobcats can be taken from one county.
Impressive numbers of bobcats now exist in the eastern woodlands, thanks to successful conservation initiatives. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) credits these efforts for the drastic increase in population over recent years.
Spotting a bobcat in Kansas is an uncommon occurrence due to its naturally reclusive nature. If you are fortunate enough to see one of these animals, it will likely be tucked away near rocky hillsides or ravines where they go after cottontail rabbits and other small mammals for sustenance. There is no definite number as to how many bobcats reside within the state’s borders today.
Bobcats can be found almost everywhere in Kentucky. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) estimates that the wild population of bobcats ranges between 3,000 to 5,000 across the state. Due to successful conservation efforts by KDFWR over recent years, their numbers have steadily been on the rise with more than 1400 bobcats being snagged since the hunting season re-opened for bobcats in 2021.
As bobcats have few predators, their population has multiplied across rural Louisiana. Residents often spot them in the wilds of this state, where an expanse of habitat and declining fur harvest permit these creatures to thrive. The Louisiana Wildlife Federation allows hunters and trappers to take one bobcat per season. No population count exists for the state as of right now.
As Maine is home to a large population of bobcats, though without an exact population estimate, sightings have been increasing all over the state and they’re often spotted hunting small mammals or deer in residential areas. They thrive in southern Maine, where the bobcat population is most dense, while avoiding the most northern and northwestern parts of the state.
Maryland is home to only one wild cat species – bobcats. Evidenced by their expansion in range east of what was historically observed, these felines seem to be increasing in number. This may likely be due to reforestation that has taken place since the 1950s, although the exact tally of the population remains unknown.
A steadily increasing number of bobcats, the only species of wild cat native to Massachusetts, can be seen in ever-growing numbers throughout the central and western regions of the state- with no exact population number known. Mass Wildlife reports that these creatures are becoming a common sight in residential areas – a testament to their burgeoning population size, changes in their historical habitat, or both.
Michigan is home to the state’s most populous wild cat – the bobcat. These majestic animals are distributed throughout every single county in Michigan, primarily sustaining themselves off rabbits and rodents.
Subsequently, sightings of them have been on the rise in recent years, specifically among folks living in southern Lower Peninsula regions. Though it’s difficult to determine an exact figure for their population size, some studies suggest that there could be as many as 10 thousand individuals dwelling here!
Boasting a population of approximately 2,000 individuals, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources estimates that bobcats are the most populous wildcat species in the state. Found from north to south and east to west throughout Minnesota, these felines are especially concentrated in northern regions. Alongside bobcats, cougars and Canada lynx also call this great land home.
The bobcat is a remarkable species that can be found all over Mississippi, enjoying wetland habitats as the only wild cat in this state. Hunting for these creatures is allowed during certain times of the year with rules varying depending on your region. Be sure to check out local regulations before you attempt to bag one, as limits are strictly enforced.
In Mississippi, bobcat hunting season takes place from October through February with different regulations on how many bobcats you can kill depending on what month it is. It is estimated that there are a few thousand bobcats living throughout Mississippi today.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed that bobcats have become a regular sight in the last two decades, with their population steadily growing in parts of the Ozark Plateau and Bootheel. Their presence has been observed across all areas of Missouri due to environmental changes and human activities.
Bobcats typically call wooded areas near water bodies, grasslands, and agricultural fields their home. To preserve the population of these wild cats, Missouri has put in place strict regulations regarding bobcat hunting within its borders.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department reports that the bobcat population in Montana is estimated to be between 2,000 and 4,000. Bobcats inhabit a vast majority of this state’s area and contribute significantly to its ecosystem. By controlling populations of small mammals like rodents or rabbits, they help prevent overgrazing, which can arise from too many living creatures competing for resources.
The exact number of bobcats in Nebraska is unknown. However, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the estimated population of bobcats in Nebraska is between 500 and 1000. Bobcats are found throughout much of eastern and central Nebraska. Bobcats are essential for preserving well-balanced habitats in Nebraska. With their help, small mammal populations can be kept under control.
Recent estimates by Nevada’s Department of Wildlife suggest that approximately 27,000 bobcats live throughout the state. From wooded areas to semi-arid regions, these fascinating felines can be found in a variety of habitats across Nevada.
They’ve become increasingly bold around humans – seen sauntering through cities and even popping up in backyards. Researchers believe we unknowingly entice them with food scraps and waste readily available for them to scavenge in urban environments.
29. New Hampshire
For centuries, bobcats have been a part of the U.S., yet their population nearly disappeared from New Hampshire due to hunting and habitat loss in the 1970s and 1980s. Thanks to wildlife biologists’ conservation efforts, however, these wild cats are gaining ground once more – with as many as 1,400 living in the state today, contributing to their ecological community once more.
30. New Jersey
Bobcats, a medium-sized feline species found throughout North America, have been making an impressive comeback in the Garden State over recent years. Currently estimated at around 100 bobcats by way of sightings, these feisty cats mainly inhabit northern New Jersey although they seem to be exploring more regions as of late.
Protection of bobcats and their habitats in New Jersey is a priority for conservation groups, who have taken action by establishing protected areas such as Bobcat Alley. These large cats were reintroduced to the wilderness of Warren County in 1978 with 24 bobcats relocated from a conservancy in Maine. Alarmingly, bobcats have been considered an endangered species in this state for some time.
31. New Mexico
The New Mexico Game and Fish agency reports that bobcats reside in every county across the state. Estimates indicate there are thousands of them, yet the exact count remains undetermined.
It’s vital to keep these felines as part of the ecosystem since they play a role in regulating populations of prey species throughout New Mexico, as well as providing a source of food for mountain lions and coyotes. Bobcats have been seen around Albuquerque and other urban areas of the state, which is mirrored by their presence in many states across America.
32. New York
With an estimated area of 13,500 square miles in New York occupied by eastern bobcats, it’s no surprise that the Catskill region holds about 16 for every 100 square miles. This population has been maintained due to restoration efforts initiated after bobcats were nearly wiped out from New York during the 1970s and 1980s – with a current count of 5,000 wild bobcats. The Eastern Bobcat is actually the only large cat species still found in New York, and it is thriving.
33. North Carolina
North Carolina is home to a burgeoning bobcat population, estimated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 individuals. This represents a remarkable turnaround for the species after being pushed almost to extinction due to hunting and habitat destruction in the 1970s.
You can now find these medium-sized felines inhabiting wooded areas throughout the Coastal Plains and mountainous regions of North Carolina.
34. North Dakota
The North Dakota Fish and Game Department estimates that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 bobcats in North Dakota with bobcat numbers increasing since the 1970s. Hunting and trapping of bobcats is allowed in certain areas and seasons as regulated by the state.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has determined that two distinct populations of bobcats now exist in the Buckeye State. The researchers at Ohio University have concluded that there are suitable habitats for these animals both in the southwestern and northeastern regions, despite their absence from the state since the mid-1800s owing to excessive hunting.
As bobcat populations in nearby states began migrating to Ohio during the early 2000s, sporadic sightings of these animals started escalating. The most recent population count was estimated to be 499 by the Division of Wildlife at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, there is an abundance of bobcat species in the state, with 12 distinct subspecies inhabiting both northern and southern Oklahoma.
Bobcats can be found across Oklahoma, and although their numbers remain a mystery, it is clear that they are plentiful in this state’s ecosystem as both predator and prey. This powerful species plays an integral role in balancing the natural environment of Ohio.
Bobcats are the tiniest wild cats in Oregon, with an estimated population of approximately 5,000 to 7,000. Although they can be found across the state, it is more common to find them inhabiting western Oregon and the Willamette Valley due to prey availability. There are three distinct subspecies that inhabit Ohio.
The number of bobcats in Pennsylvania range between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals. The western region is home to the most plentiful populations since they have access to a vast amount of sustenance, such as rabbits, chipmunks, and mice. Though these large cats also inhabit more urban areas, including parks or golf courses, they typically remain distant from humans.
To protect and cultivate the bobcat population in Pennsylvania, hunting seasons have been limited and regulations on trapping methods are strongly enforced. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has also taken it upon themselves to launch research initiatives that seek to understand how human activities might be adversely impacting local wildlife populations.
39. Rhode Island
The population of bobcats in Rhode Island has been steadily increasing, and according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), reports of sightings have more than doubled since 2019. In 2020 alone, there were double the number of confirmed sightings.
Encouragingly, the bobcat population- the exact number of bobcats that live in Rhode Island is not known- is expanding and flourishing despite human interference into their habitat. The good news is that they are protected furbearers under Rhode Island general law, meaning there are no open hunting or trapping seasons for them.
40. South Carolina
Throughout South Carolina, bobcats are plentiful – particularly in the Lowcountry. The population size is hard to determine, but it could range from a couple of hundred to several thousand cats living here. Bobcats are classified as furbearers and can be hunted or trapped on private land with the proper hunting license during their designated season.
41. South Dakota
These large cats are quite common in South Dakota, most prevalently seen around the Missouri River and the Black Hills. In fact, according to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Wildlife, bobcats can be found across almost all western counties as well as counties along the Missouri River.
Biologists have been hard at work trapping these cats with the intent of determining an exact number for population size–though no estimation has been made yet. Microhabitat selection by bobcats is also being studied to determine how they select areas for denning sites or travel routes.
A plentiful animal across the state of Tennessee, bobcats can be seen in areas like Nashville’s Green Hills and West Meade, as well as Shelby Bottoms, and throughout the rest of Middle Tennessee. Consequently, hunting and trapping of bobcats take place each year. Hunting bobcats helps manage their numbers, yet they are also vital for keeping the population of smaller predators in check.
The two subspecies of the bobcat – the desert and Texas varieties – are commonplace in every region of Texas. Researchers have difficulty accurately estimating their population size, yet it’s clear that their numbers remain sturdy, with a forecasted increase on the horizon. This is in concordance with sightings across North Texas neighborhoods, where these large cats appear to be benefiting from proximity to humans.
The bobcat is a prevalent species in Utah, spread across each of the 29 counties and pretty much every habitat type. Data from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources suggests that this creature may have reached its lowest population count since they’ve been tracking it. Utah has a Bobcat Management Plan that will allow them to put conservation measures in place.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recognizes Bobcats as furbearers, and it is currently permissible to hunt or trap them with the relevant permits. These animals are a fundamental component of Utah’s wildlife and play an integral role in preserving equilibrium in their habitats.
Vermont hosts a plentiful population of Eastern bobcats, with an estimated 3,000 members across the state. These elusive creatures are best spotted during the twilight hours and can be found in virtually every town throughout Vermont. Even though they often remain out of sight to humans, their presence is known by signs such as tracks and droppings left behind on trails or roadsides.
The bobcat is the only wildcat found to date in Virginia, with an estimated one cat per four square miles. These elusive yet extraordinary creatures have been spotted across the state from suburban neighborhoods to the Blue Ridge Mountains, although rarely due to their reclusive nature.
With a noticeable surge in sightings over recent years and some worries about this increasing population, Virginia has initiated a study that tracks these animals’ movements for further investigation.
The population of bobcats throughout Washington State is not known. What is known is that they are present and their numbers remain stable. The remarkable ability to hide combined with a shy demeanor means most residents don’t consider the possibility that these animals occupy both remote areas as well as urban locations right in their own backyards.
In fact, bobcats have been shown to live in urban areas more recently. Adult males have an average home range size varying from 2.5 – 6 square miles, while females typically only need about half of this area for theirs.
48. West Virginia
The only wild feline that can be found in West Virginia, the bobcat’s estimated population of 2,500 is given by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. Although they are widespread across most areas within the state, you will find them more frequently in both the Eastern Highlands and along the Ohio River Valley.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of West Virginia’s wildlife agencies, the bobcat population has been secure and steady over the past few years. The state takes great measures to protect this species through regulated hunting and trapping.
In Wisconsin, the bobcat population has experienced a dramatic resurgence. According to research conducted by the Department of Natural Resources, approximately 46,500 of these cats now prowl within all 72 counties – from coniferous swamps and dense woodland areas alike. This wildlife success story is still unfolding as their numbers are projected to surge.
With the help of conservation efforts, Wyoming’s bobcat population has experienced stability over recent years. Notably, it is a species of low concern, and the hunting season typically starts in November every year to March.
The bobcat is a notoriously hard animal to hunt due to its solitary, reclusive nature. The Wyoming Department of Natural Resources has kept the bobcat population stable, but there hasn’t been any estimate regarding its current population at this point in time.
A Quick Look At Bobcats
Bobcats are a medium-sized species of wildcat native to North America. They are typically characterized by their small size and pointed ears, along with distinctive black markings on the face and neck.
Bobcats have a wide range of habitat preferences and can be found in urban areas as well as more remote regions like wetlands, forests, deserts, and mountains. They are solitary creatures who generally live alone except during mating season. Their habitat range encompasses much of the United States and parts of Canada.
Bobcats need environments that provide dense foliage, plenty of spaces to hide, and an assortment of trees, shrubs, and grassy patches as well as rocky surfaces. Their living areas may include forests, farmland, deserts, swamps, or mountains. If needed for shelter from unfavorable weather conditions, they can find it in urban parks or even backyards. These crepuscular animals tend to rest during the day in dens constructed within hollow logs, tree cavities, and thickets with high coverage.
Depending on the species and where they live, Bobcats can range in size. Normally, adult bobcats measure 18-30 inches (45-75 cm) with a tail of 6-11 inches (15-28 cm). Male bobcats are usually bigger than females and typically weigh 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 – 9 kg). The fur of bobcats living in colder climates is longer and fluffier compared to those from warmer regions.
The bobcat is the tiniest member of the wild cat family, but it’s still an awe-inspiring creature. Its stubby body and short legs make it extraordinarily agile, enabling it to catch its prey swiftly and with remarkable efficiency. Moreover, this cunning hunter has mastered silence as a tool when hunting small animals or birds – making stealth one of its most powerful weapons.
Bobcats’ diets consist mainly of small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, and mice. They also enjoy some bird species, reptiles, amphibians, and even insects. Bobcats have been known to stalk deer, though this is rare. They are most active during the twilight hours and can be seen hunting in the early morning or late evening.
Bobcats are solitary animals, and they typically only come together for mating. The mating process begins with the male bobcat seeking out a female in heat. Once he finds her, the male will then follow her closely until she is ready to mate. When the female is ready, she will crouch down on the ground and signal her receptiveness to the male.
Once mating is complete, the female bobcat may stay with the male for up to three days before moving on alone. She will typically give birth to 2-4 kittens within two months. The male bobcat will never stay with the female to help care for the kittens, nor will he ever meet his offspring.
Bobcats breed between February and March, with the female bobcat giving birth to an average of two to four kittens after a gestation period of approximately two months. The young remain with the mother for around 6-8 months before dispersing. The life expectancy of a bobcat is around 10 years in the wild.
Behavior and Adaptations
Bobcats are solitary creatures that only come together to mate and defend their territories, which they often do by clawing trees or spraying urine. During the day, they typically take repose in thick vegetation while foraging for food at night; catching ducks, rabbits, rodents, and fish with surprising ease due to their remarkable agility and ability to leap great distances.
Swimming is one of the many talents bobcats possess, as they are sometimes known to hunt in shallow waters. Bobcats also have remarkable eyesight and hearing that aids them while searching for their prey. Despite being timid creatures, they can be quite fierce if disturbed or threatened; some bobcats even attack humans when feeling trapped with no other option available.
Bobcats are highly adaptive and can reside in a diversity of habitats, from parched deserts to lush wetlands to forests. As cunning hunters, they also have the ability to utilize an array of tools for more successful capturing of their prey. Additionally, these large cats are crepuscular animals that usually show activity at sunrise and sundown.
Subspecies of Bobcat
There are 13 unofficial subspecies of bobcats, many of which have been mentioned in this article, but only two are recognized by the scientific community.
This majestic species of wildcat native to the North American continent, the Eastern bobcat can be found almost everywhere, from Canada in the north to Mexico in the south. Its distinguishing features include its thick coat that varies from grayish-brown to dark brown, along with white coloration on its belly, a black-tipped tail, and unique tufts on its ears. These animals usually weigh between 11 and 30 pounds and measure up to three feet long at most.
A wild feline originating from North America, the Western bobcat is easily identifiable by its short “bobbed” tail. With long legs, small ears, and an adorning ruff of fur around the neck, this bobcat exhibits shades of sandy gray with splashes of reddish-brown or yellow spots that often take form in streak patterns on the sides and back.