City officials issued a warning Thursday for residents to be aware of bobcats, especially in the northern part of the city.

“Over the past week, the city has received several reports of bobcat sightings around North Milford,” states the message from Mayor Ben Blake. “As you would with anything wild, please exercise common sense and avoid approaching the animals. Also, please take appropriate precautions to protect small pets.”

According to an article in the Shelton Herald, which is a sister publication of the Milford Mirror, bobcats do not usually pose a threat to people.

Shelton’s Natural Resource Manager Teresa Gallagher told the Shelton Herald they are usually shy and stay clear of people, but can be drawn into a resident’s yard by food.

“The problem with birdfeeders, garbage and pet food that gets left outside is that it supports and attracts a large population of rodents,” Gallagher said. “The bobcat, coyote and other animals will come in looking for those rodents.”

As a precaution, Gallagher advises people to closely watch their small pets and avoid leaving food outside their homes.

Dennis Schain, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) spokesman, agreed that bobcats typically stay away from people.

“Bobcats can be seen virtually anywhere across our state,” Schain said. “We don’t have exact population counts, but they are seen fairly frequently. No real danger…they shy away from people….likely to move away when they see people.”


The bobcat
According to the DEEP, the bobcat is the only wild cat found in Connecticut and the most common wild cat in North America.

The status of the animal has changed drastically over the years within Connecticut. Initially, there was a bounty placed on bobcats because they were viewed as a threat to agriculture and game species. That has since changed, when they were reclassified as a protected furbearer in Connecticut with no hunting or trapping seasons back in 1972, according to the DEEP website.

The increase in sightings and reports of vehicles killing bobcats in Connecticut are a result of an increase in their population.

A bobcat is two to three times larger than its distant relative, the house cat. It has a short stubby tail. Adult males typically weigh between 18 and 35 pounds and measure from 32 to 37 inches in length. Adult females typically weigh between 15 and 30 pounds and measure from 28 to 32 inches in length.

Typically bobcats can be found in wooded areas or forests.

Their diet usually consists of small animals like rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, snowshoe hares, white-tailed deer, birds, and even insects. Deer that are taken by bobcats are most likely sick, injured, young, or very old.

For more information on these animals visit http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325974&deepNav_GID=1655.


And then there are ...


Bobcats are not the only animals garnering attention in Milford. Residents in north Milford recently sent a photo to the Milford Mirror of what they thought looked like a coywolf. According to Smithsonianmag.org, “Coywolves are not ‘shy wolves’— they are coyote-wolf hybrids (with some dog mixed in)...”

“We have had several sightings recently, possibly because of the contrast against the snow,” the resident wrote in an email. “Not sure I would have noticed without the snow — they blend into the background and aren't very visible in my photos.”

She said the animal is larger that a coyote, both in height and in length.

DEEP officials said that from the photo, they believe the animal is a coyote, but couldn’t be positive without measuring the animal’s track.

“Eastern coyotes have a small amount of wolf genetics from some crossbreeding when coyotes first colonized the northeastern United States,” according to a DEEP wildlife expert. “The wolf component is not substantial, coyote genetics predominate. Calling our coyotes ‘coywolves’ suggests a nearly 50/50 hybrid, which is not the case. I feel ‘coyotes’ is a more appropriate term.”