Council Bluffs residents Lynne Branigan and Gardner Broadbent spotted a bobcat behind their house off Madison Avenue near Timbercrest Drive Saturday.
Branigan took photos and Broadbent took video of the wild feline.
“It never ceases to amaze me what we see, and it makes me wonder what we don’t see," Branigan said.
The Council Bluffs resident said it's not the first time she's spotted a wild animal in her backyard. She's also seen foxes, deer, raccoons and a variety of birds.
This was the first time the couple had seen a bobcat despite living in the same house for 10 years.
“I knew it was some sort of wild cat,” Broadbent said.
In the photos, the bobcat can be seen sitting in a birdbath in the backyard and drinking water. The cat disappeared into the woods behind their house within a few minutes, Branigan said.
Both Branigan and Broadbent shared their photos and videos online.
Branigan said she shared her photos to help spread awareness to other community members about the animal being in the area.
The population of bobcats in Iowa is estimated at 5,000 to 7,000, according to Vince Evelsizer, state furbearer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Evelsizer said bobcats are rarely seen since they tend to keep to themselves, live in wooded areas and avoid people.
Evelsizer recommended if a bobcat is too close, to “holler” and show movement so they know you’re there.
“Small dogs or farm cats might be in trouble,” Evelsizer said. “A bobcat might threaten them but we haven’t had any known or confirmed cases of pet attacks by bobcats.”
Galen Barrett, chief animal control officer for Council Bluffs, and Matt Dollison DNR biologist for the Nishnabotna area both said they receive several calls about bobcats a year and generally have found they are not a threat as well.
Bobcats tend to stay away from people, and typically go after rabbits, squirrels or birds for food, according to Barrett.
“If you see them, you provide one of three things: food, water or shelter or a path to somewhere that has that,” Barrett said.
He recommended to keep your distance from bobcats.
If one is injured, call animal control rather than approaching the feline, he said.
Dollison primarily receives calls from area hunters.
Bobcats had been protected, but they are now a common enough species that they can be hunted, he said.
Dollison said hunters have to climb trees so the cat won’t know they’re there. He also said that bobcats are small and afraid of people.
“Basically, enjoy the sight and feel comfortable and you’ll be fine,” he said.