Bobcats In Washington State: Diet, Habitat & Hunting Rules

Bobcats in Washington State are in quite good numbers. You can find these cats in every nook and corner of the state. Nowadays, these cats are also visiting urban and suburban areas more often. Despite having such a large prevalence in the state, it is still extremely difficult to spot these cats in the state due to their highly reclusive, stealthy, and shy nature.

Generally, bobcats come in different shades of buff and brown colors along with black plus brown stripes and spots all over the body. On the eastern side of the state, you may notice bobcats having light buff color as compared to bobcats on the western side of the state. However, you may find bobcats of both colors in the cascade mountains of the state. In this article, we are going to discuss the presence of the bobcats in Washington State in detail and will let you know everything about these bobcats of Washington.

Bobcats in Washington state

Ecology of Washington

Washington has a very conducive habitat for the long-term existence of bobcats in the state. Washington is very well-known for its outcroppings, rock cliffs, and ledges and is highly beneficial for providing shelter to the cats and raising and resting the young kittens of bobcats.

Moreover, bobcats in Washington could also avail of hollow trees, brushes, and log piles in wooded areas. It is also very common to find bobcats in the meadows, open fields, and agricultural areas of the state. Washington State has also deep snowy areas where bobcats don’t like to go due to their small feet.

What do bobcats eat in Washington?

What do bobcats eat in Washington
Bobcats can prey on different animals including small pets.

Bobcats are opportunistic predators and these cats can prey on different animals. The primary source of food for the bobcat in washing is small mammals like mice, voles, insects, rodents, gophers, mountain beavers, reptiles, carrions, and birds. These cats could also prey on domestic animals like pigs, poultry, lambs, and house cats.

For hunting, these cats mainly deploy sighting and sounding techniques. First, they stalk their prey for a very long time and then ambush the prey at the most opportune time. They eat enough and cover the remaining kill with debris, snow, or grass. These cats also like to revisit the carcass until there is nothing left on it.

Also, read our article for Bobcats in Indiana State.

Other wild cats in Washington State

Canadian lynx and cougar can be found as other wild cats in the state
Canadian Lynx and cougar are present in some counties, but in few numbers.

There are also some other wild cats in Washington State other than bobcats. Washington State has Canadian Lynx and Cougar in a few counties. Indeed, these cats are very few but these cats are present in the state. Canadian lynx are very few and it has been estimated that there have been just 100 Canadian Lynx left in the state.

These cats are considered endangered species of the state. These cats have a lot of resemblance with bobcats and come with triangular ears and large paws. Cougars are also present in Washington state but these cats are also very small in numbers and the presence of these cats is also doubtful in the state. These are the largest wild cats in the state and mainly prey on elk, deer, sheep, mountain goats, coyotes, and rabbits.

The geographical range of bobcats in Washington State

The Geographical range of the bobcats varies from one region to another and from one gender to another. On the western side of Washington, an adult bobcat occupies 2.5 square miles which is much larger than they cover on the Eastern side of the state. Male bobcats cover the territorial range almost two times the territorial range of female bobcats.

Hunting and Killing of Bobcats in Washing State

A bobcat in the grassland of Washington state
You can only hunt a bobcat if you have a proper license.

Bobcats are considered the game animals in the state. It is not generally allowed to hunt these cats freely. You can only hunt these cats in the open season and you can only hunt if you have a proper hunting license for this purpose. A private property owner is allowed to kill the bobcats if these cats are damaging their properties or killing their domestic animals.

No permit is required for this kind of killing. You may also kill bobcats in your self-defense or in defense of other human beings.  A person who kills these cats must have some credible reason for this kind of killing. In whatever way, you kill these cats without having any hunting license you must immediately return the body of the bobcat to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Rules and regulations for hunting of bobcats Washington State

Rules And Regulations For Hunting Of Bobcats

You need to follow certain rules and regulations for the hunting of these cats in the state.

  • Suppressors are legally allowed for hunting purposes.
  • You can do baiting if the bobcats have been damaging your property or house pets.
  • Electronic, mouth, and hand callers are allowed for the hunting of these cats.
  • Nighttime hunting is allowed in the state.
  • You can utilize equipment like lights, night vision, infrared, and thermal riflescopes for hunting purposes.
  • You cannot hunt these cats by using dogs.
  • You must seal the pelts you have gotten after hunting.

Professional assistance for capturing bobcats

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also provides professional assistance for capturing bobcats if there is a threat to public safety. For this purpose, they have hired professionally trained personnel. A private citizen could also do this activity if he or she is skilled and trained enough to deal with wild animals. These private citizens have also been named as nuisance wildlife control operators or you can say just trappers.

Almost 180 NWCOs are operating throughout the state of Washington. These people are not WDFW employees but these people must have a license to do this activity and they could also be privately charged as much as they want. You may contact your WDFW regional office for getting the details about companies or individuals working in your area. However, you must check their permit before trusting that these people are trained enough.

Frequently asked questions

Bobcats could be found throughout Washington state. Now, these cats are also being seen in urban and suburban settings. You may not see them most often due to their reclusive, stealthy, and shy nature.

Other than bobcats, Washington has also some other big wild cats like the Canadian lynx, mountain lion, or cougar. These cats are very few in number but you cannot deny their presence altogether.

Yes, bobcats could be found in Seattle city. These cats are mainly found in the forests on the outskirts of Seattle. These cats here in this forest mainly rely on small mammals like rodents and mice.


Bobcats in Washington State have their presence in quite good numbers and the population is also thriving very rapidly. These cats are also approaching urban and sub-urban areas of the state and becoming a huge risk to public safety. Official-level assistance is also available in the state to deal with these kinds of cats. You may hunt or trap these cats but only after getting a hunting license for the season. If you privately kill these cats in self-defense then you must also return the body of the bobcats as soon as possible to the relevant authorities.

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