A bobcat has been spotted chilling out on a backyard shed roof on the North Shore.
Stunning photos of the animal encounter on a rainy January day were shared by North Vancouver hobby photographer Steve Toombs, who says he was lucky to capture the moment.
Toombs, who has lived at his home that backs on to Lynn Creek for two decades, said he had never had a bobcat stop by in all his years at the property, until recently.
He said the big cat had visited the yard briefly a few weeks ago, but he wasn’t quick enough to snap a photo at the time.
“I caught it briefly once, chasing a squirrel in my yard a few weeks back,” he said.
“I saw it run up the tree and by the time I got my camera I didn’t get even a single picture of it – but it’s come by now a couple of times to sit on the roof of my shed.”
The bobcat made another unexpected visit around 11 a.m. on Jan. 4. This time, Toombs was ready and had his camera close by when he noticed the big cat relaxing on the shed.
“The first pictures I took, I shot through my window, because I didn’t want to scare it away – but the pictures didn’t turn out very well, so I tried going outside, but it was raining quite hard,” he explained.
“I went out in the rain and managed to capture one of the bobcat sitting out on the roof, and then the others I went back into my dining room and I slid open the sliding door so I could photograph it from there. Once I started clicking, you basically see a series of the bobcat getting up and leaving.”
Toombs was using a Nikon D810 with a 200-500 mm lens when he managed to capture the bobcat hanging out before it got up, stretched, and walked away casually. He estimated the bobcat was about 12 kg or up to twice the size of an average house cat.
“It was pretty cool because they’re fairly elusive,” Toombs said. “I’ve known they’re around, but I’ve never seen one before, so it was great.
“It was just hanging out on the shed in the rain.”
Living so close to Lynn Creek, Toombs said he often had critters and larger wildlife visiting his backyard.
“We see bears all the time and skunks and raccoons, the usual, and we had a mink in the yard once, but it’s the first time in 20 years that we’ve been here that we’ve seen a bobcat.”
He said a certain patience was needed for wildlife photography, and it wasn’t his usual forte.
“I just got lucky,” Toombs said.
“I just happened to be looking out at the right time and was able to grab my camera.”
Bobcats are 'very discreet' animals
Sgt. Simon Gravel, of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said it wasn’t very common to receive reports of bobcat sightings on the North Shore, with more reports usually coming from Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.
“We do have a healthy population of bobcats,” he said. “Usually they’re very discreet so you don’t see them much, but it is very likely that a bobcat can be seen in North Vancouver.”
He said while the conservation office didn’t have data on their populations, bobcats were doing well and played a good role in the ecosystem, hunting small prey like rodents.
Gravel said bobcats, which grow to about 14 kg, were not a big concern for public safety, but it was important for people in residential areas near wildlife to control attractants.
“We don’t want bobcats to associate our backyards with a source of food,” he said.
“We don’t have any reports of a bobcat attacking a human, but we do have knowledge that they can go after chicken coops or small pets.
“They are very small animals and we do not have much concern in terms of public safety. However, if a bobcat approaches you it is important not to feed it, not to approach it or have any positive interaction but to chase them away.”
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.