The Bobcat’s Back, Even on Main Street
The animal flashed across the road so suddenly that I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting it. In that frozen instant, I identified it as a bobcat with a rabbit hanging from its jaws.
It was only the third bobcat I’d seen in 40 years of living in southwestern New Hampshire. It was the first to bolt out of the woods at midday at a busy small town intersection between a Mexican restaurant and a shopping center.
In colonial times, bobcats were common here, but their numbers diminished to the verge of extinction. When New Hampshire ended the legal hunt in 1989, experts estimated that only 150 of the reclusive creatures were left in the state.
By 2015, aided by the successful reintroduction of wild turkeys, one of the bobcat’s favorite foods, there were 10 times as many. The state decided to consider permitting hunting and trapping again.
While hunters applauded, environmentalists and some wildlife scientists howled. It was far too early, they said, to revive the hunt.
The debate was overfamiliar. But the sight of that magnificent predator was not. It was an eruption of pure wildness in the most ordinary of settings, as weird and exhilarating as a band of Cheyenne warriors pursuing a buffalo down Main Street.