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Family of bobcats moves into Arizona woman's front yard; a month later, they won't leave

The woman went viral after posting a photo of the bobcats lounging on her front porch, but the photo doesn't tell the entire story.
Credit: Kate Smith

MESA, Ariz — A picture of three bobcats sleeping on someone's front porch has gone viral online and, of course, it's happening in Arizona.

Mesa resident Kate Smith posted the picture on her Twitter account Friday and it's gained thousands of views since. Smith said the picture doesn't tell the entire story.

"These guys have been here a month," Smith said during a phone call. "I've been told that as soon as the cubs are old enough to hunt on their own, they should be moving on, but they've been here a while."

Now, there's no telling how long the bobcat family will stay in Smith's yard.

Relocating bobcats can be fatal

Smith called the Arizona Game and Fish Department asking them to help move the animals, but they told her that bobcat relocation often results in the animals' death.

"The answer they gave me was that if you take them out of their territory, they typically don't survive, so I said 'oh, forget it," Smith said. "They're territorial, so if you plop them down in an area they're unfamiliar with, they usually won't make it."

Smith has lived in her house west of Usery Mountain Regional Park for the past 24 years, and had only one other bobcat encounter around three years ago. That encounter only lasted a day or two because that bobcat was injured and required medical help.

Bobcats rarely attack humans unless they have rabies or are extremely aggressive, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's website. But, Smith has still made sure to divert as much foot traffic away from her front door due to the bobcat family.

"I've got a sign out in the driveway for delivery people telling them not to come into our courtyard," Smith said. "All neighbors and family know not to come to the front door. Our dog is grounded at this point."

How to discourage bobcats and other tips

The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers numerous tips on how to deter bobcats from choosing your home as a resting place, including:

  • Trimming shrubbery, grass, and other plants to deny bobcats hiding cover
  • Removing any outdoor pet food 
  • Work with your neighbors for a consistent community solution to the problem

The department also advised against feeding the bobcats as this may encourage them to stay at your residence or may become too comfortable around humans.

"Everybody is like 'oh my god, give them water,' but game and fish told me not to give them water because you don't want them comfortable," Smith said.

Game and Fish asks people with a bobcat family with kittens in their yard to try and tolerate it for a few weeks until the kittens are large enough to leave the area with their mother. 

However, if you happen to have a single bobcat in your yard with no kittens, the department recommends making loud noises or scaring them with a garden hose to try and get them to leave.

The department also had tips for people thinking about trying to shoot bobcats on their property, including:

  • Bobcats are classified as predatory and furbearing animals. A valid hunting license is required, except in the case of depredation (killing of livestock) removal.
  •  The possession of live bobcats is illegal.
  • State law prohibits firing a gun within a quarter-mile of an occupied residence or building without the permission of the owner.
  • Check your local city ordinances, but most cities ban shooting firearms within city limits. Some cities ban the use of slingshots, BB guns, air guns, or bows.

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