LAKE CARROLL — Nick Kane, a resident of Lake Carroll, had an unusual visitor pass by his house last week.
Kane saw and photographed a bobcat when it was walking down the road.
“I first saw the bobcat while looking out my window facing the front of my property. It was casually walking up the street and then took a turn into my driveway. It then retreated to the woods on my property after a vehicle was heard in the distance. Just as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared,” Kane wrote in an email.
He said he saw the bobcat on Feb. 20 at around 4 p.m.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, bobcats are about twice the size of a common house cat. They stand 20 to 23 inches high at the shoulder and are 30 to 35 inches in length.
Weights vary from 10 to 40 pounds. Females average about one-third smaller than males.
They get their name from a short, bobbed tail that is about 5 to 6 1/2 inches in length. Small tufts of hair extend from the tips of their ears, making them look pointed.
Historically, bobcats occurred throughout Illinois but were most common in forested parts of the state.
Habitat changes and unregulated hunting caused their numbers to decline dramatically by the late 1800s. During 1977, bobcats were placed on Illinois’ first official list of threatened species.
Bobcats responded well to protection and habitat restoration.
During the 1990s, a study conducted by the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University confirmed reports of bobcats in all but three counties. At that time, bobcats were common in southern Illinois and expanding northward.
Bobcats were removed from the list of state threatened species in 1999.
“Statewide, the number of bobcats sighted by archery deer hunters increased more than ten-fold from 1992 to 2012. This trend is supported by intensive studies in the southern third of the state, where the number of bobcats increased from 2,200 in 2000 to 3,200 by 2009. Today, it is estimated that as many as 5,000 bobcats occur in the state,” IDNR’s website said.
This isn’t the first time bobcats have been spotted in the Lake Carroll area with sightings also reported in 2017.