This video caught my eye. It is a bobcat attacking a deer. Or that is what it looks like. There could be a discussion as to whether this is a bobcat or a young cougar because the image quality is poor. However, based upon the cat’s size and the length of its tail, my assessment is that the cat is a bobcat.
The reason why it caught my eye is because the deer fights back so effectively and it is such a struggle for the bobcat. It is the intensity of the struggle which caught my eye. The rapidity of it. We do not know the outcome because the last frames of this video shows the bobcat jumping onto the rump of the deer.
I will quote from “Wild Cats Of the World“:
Deer are important in the bobcat diet across the North Eastern United States, occurring in 16 to 35% of samples (stomachs, faeces) in this region.
However, the majority of prey items taken by bobcats are small animals weighing less than 2 kg. That said there are substantial records showing that bobcats can single-handedly kill prey weighing about 10 times their own body weight.
In Vermont, USA, in a sample of 37 deer killed by bobcats, six of the deer weighed less than 23 kg, 22 weighed between 23 and 45 kg and eight weighed between 45 and 67 kg. The largest deer killed by a bobcat in Vermont in this sample was a 68 kg buck.
In Maine, similar observations have been made. To return to the video, it is likely that it would have ended with the bobcat killing the deer with rapid bites to the throat, neck or base of the skull. Most attacks are at the throat so the deer probably dies of suffocation or haemorrhage.
In the northern United States bobcats mainly prey on deer in the winter when deep snow or “nutritional stress” increases the dear’s vulnerability to predation.
Observations have been made to show that when a bobcat kills a deer it is not always that quick as the video highlights. There are a few eyewitness accounts of deer bounding along “with a bobcat straddling the deer’s back or clinging onto its throat”. This may apply to adult deers. Most predation by bobcats on deer is against fawns, which are killed relatively quickly by a neck or throat bite.
The video somewhat surprised me but as it happens this is not an untypical encounter between bobcat and deer.