A feline figure captured on a camera in Sykesville was a bobcat, according to a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
A gray-scale image of an animal that resembles a large cat began circulating on social media last week, sparking debate among Sykesville neighbors who pondered whether the creature was a bobcat, mountain lion or something else. The picture was captured near Mineral Hill Road, according to a Facebook post.
Harry Spiker, the game mammal section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said his department sorts through thousands of wildlife pictures each year. The spots on the animal’s hind legs were a dead giveaway, he said.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind it’s a bobcat,” Spiker said.
Western Maryland has a “solid” bobcat population, Spiker said, though it’s possible to see them anywhere west of the Chesapeake Bay. The DNR plans to launch a study in the next few months with the University of Delaware to research the local bobcat population.
Bobcats are the only type of wild cat found in Maryland, according to the DNR. They’re typically about twice as large as house cats, ranging from 15-40 pounds and 29-39 inches in length.
The cats prefer feeding on small mammals, such as mice, voles, rabbits, squirrels and woodchucks, and occasionally eat larger animals like deer.
Bobcat encounters with humans are rare, Spiker said; they usually shy away from people.
“They’re real secretive,” Spiker said.
Although it’s rare for people to meet bobcats face-to-face, Spiker suggested anyone who does see one should make themselves known to the animal, allow it an escape route and don’t try to approach it. He also said residents concerned about bobcats living nearby should not leave food out around their homes.
“We share the landscape everyday and really don’t have a lot of issues with them,” Spiker said.