Story shared with permission from the Inverness Oran
It’s not the kind of visitor anyone would wish for in the early morning hours, especially on Valentine’s Day.
Walter Delorey and Mary Vuillemot are seniors living in Rankinville, near Mabou, who were awakened by a big noise downstairs around 1:30 in the morning of Tuesday, February 14th.
“A big bobcat chased one of our cats in and broke the cat door,” Delorey said last week after the incident.
“We chased her around the house, into the bathroom, and finally cornered her in the kitchen between the fridge and wall,” he added.
Following advice from Department of Natural Resources wildlife technicians, the homeowners decided to leave the door of the house open for the night, hoping the bobcat would leave on its own.
No such luck however.
When they phoned Department of Natural Resources for assistance they found they’d have to wait until morning.
It made for a long cold night without sleep while they fed the fire and Delorey noted that it was scary.
“I was tired and it was a chore to stay awake,” he said.
Delorey said that it was an average to large sized female bobcat that otherwise looked healthy.
He also said that next morning the tracks outside seemed to suggest the bobcat was chasing one of their house cats around through the deep snow.
“We were concerned about our cats as we did not know where they all were and our house is mostly open. We’ve lost cats before – even recently,” said Delorey, who wondered if the bobcat might be the predator responsible.
The couple said they had never before seen a bobcat on the property or near the house in 48 years.
The next morning two Department of Natural Resources wildlife officers arrived to help.
It took about 20 to 30 minutes for wildlife technician Julius Wukitsch to wrangle the cat with a lot of noise and hissing.
The female bobcat, which was wedged between the fridge and the wall, had actually moved the fridge.
“I managed to get a snare pole around her paw and was able to pull her through the kitchen and outside. She was very strong and it was a bit of a challenge,” said Wukitsch, who has been a wildlife technician with Natural Resources since 2018.
Once Wukitsch got the bobcat out of the Rankinville kitchen and released it, she quickly leaped away to freedom.
Wukitsch said they rarely get calls about bobcats, but on another occasion he did have to remove one safely from a barn.
I asked Delorey if he or his wife ever had other encounters with wildlife at their home.
“We had a bear walk past the house once with a cub years ago. I saw a coyote one winter. We saw a mangy fox years ago but the foxes seem to hunt only rabbits. There was family of racoons around last year and we have fed a number of feral cats through the winter over the years,” Delorey added.
Delorey and Vuillemot are sign artists and he makes digital art that he posts on social media.
They’ve researched and created numerous interpretive signs for local trails and beaches.
Walter is an award-winning nature film maker who has made films in the Yukon, British Columbia, and here in Nova Scotia.
Delorey and Vuillemot plan to keep their cats indoors for awhile and Department of Natural Resources advise others in the area to do the same.
There seems to be a number of bobcats being spotted in the Mabou and surrounding area recently.
Wukitsch said a bobcat may have a wider range when it’s hungry.
He noted that with the heavy snowfall and crusty snow it makes it hard for the bobcats to source mice and moles and they may be attracted to cats or birds too.
Wukitsch advises homeowners to take down bird feeders and not to leave garbage, compost, or pet food out to attract wildlife.
He also encouraged people not to feed wildlife.
He said the snow hare population, which is a key food source for bobcats, is now at a low in a five- to seven-year cycle, which may be why there are more bobcat sightings.
Anyone experiencing wildlife encounters near their home is encouraged to phone the Department of Natural Resources 24/7 toll free line at 1-800-565-2224.
People are also reminded they can visit the website for wildlife tips at NS Natural Resources/renewables/living with wildlife.
All in all, despite the turmoil, everything worked out for well in the end for the house cats and the bobcat.