Bobcat Predation On Deer

Shane R. from South Carolina writes to ask about bobcat predation on deer. “I live near Kiawah Island, S.C., and have heard that bobcats on that island take a lot of deer. This surprises me because I didn’t think that: (1) we had that many bobcats around; and (2) that they ate a lot of deer. Do you know about this situation?”

Dr. Dave Samuel
Dr. Dave Samuel

Shane, the Kiawah Island situation is unusual. The island is 8,000 acres, with large-lot, high-end homes spaced throughout. There is no hunting, and indeed, they have a fair number of bobcats. In fact, recent work shows 2.4 per square mile. That is a lot of cats. Researchers there put radio collars on fawns and found that bobcats caused 68 percent of all fawn mortalities. In fact, one older adult male bobcat killed eight of 21 radio-collared deer fawns on the island in one year. A car has since hit him.

Now, before everyone panics and starts trying to kill all bobcats in the United States, remember, the Kiawah Island situation is an unusual one. And, yes Shane, there are more bobcats around the country then there used to be. Studies in the Midwest, for example, are finding more cats than we believed were there. I suspect that the huge deer herds, plus the large number of wild turkeys out there, are the reasons for the increase in cats.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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