Saturday, March 20, 2010

Possible Coyote and Bobcat Sightings in Bowie

The following discussion about coyote and bobcat sightings in Bowie recently took place on the Bowie Crofton Community of Blessings discussion group on Yahoo.

Member 1: I know I've heard many accounts of coyotes in the area, but now I'm hearing people who've seen bobcats. Have any of you sighted either of these? I'm curious if these are rare occurrences or are they getting more common.

Member 2: There is at least 1 fox that lives in the vicinity of the Belair and RT 3 exchange. But it is not a coyote.

Member 3: There are several dens of fox that are in the Bowie area. Please be careful with your small pets.

Member 1: I just want to state that I'm not trying to scare anyone, and I'm not scared myself. I'm more interested in the movement of these beautiful animals and hope that we can all live together peacefully. I don't want anyone to chase away or kill coyotes or bobcats. We just need to be aware of the things that draw them in to our neighborhoods and not tempt them into doing something that will get them hated and hunted.

Member 4: Thanks for passing this along.

I think foxes are nocturnal so it may be wise to keep small pets inside at night. If you have pet doors that lead outside, you may want to lock them.

Member 1: My brother has a regular coyote visitor in Saddlebrook. He had to build a smaller fenced in area within his fenced in yard for his tiny dogs when they go out. He did that to make it harder for the coyote to jump in by having to clear two fences. He doesn't let the dogs out unsupervised. Another neighbor saw a bobcat in the same neighborhood, but my brother and sister in law haven't seen that one, but they HAVE seen the coyote.

Member 5: There have been fox spotted in the Whitehall section too.

Member 5: Thank you. I would love to see these beautiful animals too. I have seen the fox a couple of times.

We need to stop encroaching on their territory.

Member 6: I'm in Meadowbrook off of Millstream and 197 and I occasionally see red fox in my backyard by the pool. Never seen and coyotes or bobcats.

Member 7: I agree with you Cheryl. It is wonderful to see the tolerant attitudes of folks on the list toward our wilder neighbors. I have (rarely) spotted red fox in my yard too. Friends told me years ago that there were coyote on the NASA campus. We would be poorer if we were to never have these occasional encounters with the earth's other creatures, I think.

Although I was surprised to hear about the possibility of coyotes and bobcats in Bowie, it turns out that I shouldn't be. According to a Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports on coyotes in Maryland, coyotes can now be found in every county in Maryland. A similar DNR report on bobcats in Maryland from 2007 (PDF - see page 2) reported bobcat sightings in 14 of 23 Maryland counties.

The DNR coyote article reports that as coyotes increase in population in an area, red fox are pushed out. Red fox populations are diminishing in some western and central portions of Maryland, so perhaps that's why it seems like there has been an increase in red fox sightings in Bowie in recent years - including an incident last July when a Race Track Road resident was bitten by a rabid fox.

Harry Spiker, the Game Mammal Section Leader at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, had the following to say about possible coyote and bobcat sightings in Bowie.

Coyotes are known to occupy all of Maryland now, with the highest densities in western Maryland (Garrett and Allegany counties). Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties have the highest population densities of bobcats. Sporadic distribution of bobcats continues eastward to the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

Both species are very good at avoiding people and not being seen. Both are currently in their breeding season right now, though, and this may account for increased sightings in a given area.

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  1. "Has anyone seen a bobcat or a coyote?"

    "I saw a fox."