As I grabbed moving boxes from the great room, something gray caught my eye. Our front door has glass windows alongside and some creature perched on our front porch.  Hmmm, must be our neighbor’s house cat.

I walked over to get a better look.  A gray-reddish cat with spots crouched on the wooden planks.  Double the size of a typical house cat, I quickly realized it wasn’t a domestic animal.  Straining to get a better look, I saw it had no tail.  It leaped off the porch, bounding into the woods.

Being a park ranger, I immediately got out my Mammals of Colorado guide.  As I thumbed through the pages, I narrowed it down to two critters — the lynx and the bobcat.

A couple of weeks later, as we slept, an ungodly shrieking sound woke us up.  We knew instantly it couldn’t be human.  Over and over again, the high-pitched piercing sound kept us up.   Insanely curious, we found a website with animal sounds on it, and patiently went through the various clips.

“That’s it!”

The answer to both our sighting and the weird screams were the same — the bobcat.  Bobcats are the smallest of the wild cats that inhabit the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  Around 20 pounds, they do faintly resemble a Maine Coon Cat.  They can easily be confused with the Canada Lynx.  Probably the two defining features that separate the two are the spots of the bobcat, and the feet of the Lynx.

As one a wildlife biologist told me “The lynx’s enormous, clown-like feet are the dead give away.”

Canada Lynx are fairly rare in this part of Colorado, so it’s more common to see the bobcat.

My favorite sighting of a bobcat occurred one day on my way home on Cold Springs Road.  I saw something dash across the road in the distance, and stopped the car to what it was.  Perching on the embankment along the road was a bobcat, pausing for a moment to stare it with me with its liquid eyes.

I  won’t lie, I had one of those “Awwwww” moments.

My love affair with this small cat caused me to read with greater interest an article appearing in The Denver Post.  Apparently, bobcat kills have tripled to over 1,900 last year from what it was just 15 years ago.  Robust prices for their pelts, particularly in China and Russia, have spurred demand.

Today, May 9, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials were to vote on a possible ban on hunting bobcats.  The ban would prohibit using live traps or hunting them for trophies.  Many conservationists think this would not only help stabilize the bobcat population, but possibly the much rarer Canada Lynx.  Like me, many who hunt frequently confuse the two.

Still, the commission seemed to be leaning towards voting against a ban.  Their reason?  Not enough scientific evidence.

I hope for the sake of the bobcat’s survival, they don’t wait until it’s too late to save this precious creature from an early demise.