Bobcat In Iowa: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Bobcat In Iowa

Hiding behind the dense bushes, these wild cats look terribly similar to our neighborhood-friendly pet cats. But don’t be fooled by their similarity. These fierce creatures are also capable of attacking deer. Yes, we are talking about none other than the famous feline, Bobcats.

Bobcats are the most abundant wildcats in the North American continent, their range starts in south Canada and extends up to central Mexico. But do they reside in Iowa?

Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about the Bobcat’s presence in Iowa.

Are There Bobcats in Iowa?

Yes, you will definitely find Bobcats in Iowa. The state is home to a diverse variety of habitats all of which are suitable for bobcat breeding. 

Bobcats were once almost wiped out of Iowa after European expansion. Their natural instinct to predate on Livestock led them to be hunted for a long time until the late 1900s. 

In 1977, they were listed as Threatened and endangered. As their population slowly picked up, the state delisted them but retained their Protected status.

Even today these fierce creatures are federally protected. One of the top reasons being that bobcats look similar to other species of spotted cats like leopards, which are rare and endangered throughout the world.

Where Do Bobcats Live in Iowa & How common are bobcats in Iowa?

You can spot Bobcats in almost all the counties of the state. In fact, recent wildlife studies point to about 5000 to 8000 bobcat population living in the state. 

Bobcats are solitary by nature and avoid habitats supporting a substantial human population. As per various sightings, reports, and studies, the counties in the south inhabit more bobcats than the north counties by a large margin. 

In fact, the observation concluded that, while there is a chance of seeing a bobcat in south Iowa at least once in 2 years, in north Iowa, there is only once in a 20-year chance to sight these bobcats.

Overall, like other wild creatures occupying the state’s natural landscapes, the chance of seeing or spotting a Bobcat varies county by county. While Bobcat’s population is high, it is unevenly distributed in the state.

How Large Is an Iowa Bobcat?

Bobcat In Iowa

If you are a resident of the state particularly in one of the southern counties, then I am sure you would have spotted a cat-like creature in the wild. Yes, they are carnivorous but aren’t really a threat to humans. 

Bobcats’ body size measures about 2 to 4 feet in length and 2 to 3 feet in height. While an adult female weighs 18 pounds and an adult male weighs 25 pounds, the largest bobcat recorded in the state weighed 35 pounds. Their short legs and muscular body also aid them in hunting their prey.

Also Check Our Guide On Bobcats In US

Are Bobcats Aggressive in Iowa?

Bobcats by nature are non-aggressive and tend to avoid encounters and conflicts altogether with humans. But they are territorial and tend to have conflicts with other wild animals but never with humans.

Note that this doesn’t hide the fact that Bobcat at the end of the day is a wild creature. And like any wild creature, Bobcats too are prone to be aggressive and defensive when cornered and threatened, especially due to food sources and threatening young bobcats. 

Therefore, we agree that an encounter with a bobcat especially a dangerous one is rare, still follow all the precautions set by the state for your as well as the wild animal’s safety.

What Do Bobcats Eat in Iowa?

Bobcats are opportunistic hunters and consume any meat they find. Note that their diet varies significantly as per the type of landscape they inhabit in. 

As per various study reports by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, they commonly consume small mammals like rodents and cotton rabbits. Occasionally, the wildlife department has also observed the presence of wild animals among the wildcat’s scats.

Can You Kill a Bobcat in Iowa?

Yes, you can kill a bobcat in Iowa, but there are a few restrictions and regulations you need to take care of. In addition to this, permits and licenses are required to hunt a Bobcat in the state. While resident adults can hunt with these licenses and permits, non-residents need to pay the wildlife habitat to hunt the Bobcats.

As per the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, hunting of Bobcats is only legal during the fixed hunting season organized between November and January. 

There are also fixed bag limits and a number of bobcats that can be hunted by a trapper. As such rules and regulations may change with time, always get the updated information from the state government website before taking a decision.

Can You Own a Bobcat in Iowa?

As Bobcats are a federally protected species, they cannot be owned or possessed without permits and licenses. It is the role of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to monitor and conserve the population of Bobcats in the state. 

In addition to issuing hunting permits and organizing hunting seasons, this agency is also responsible to establish and regulate the ownership of Bobcats.

Though there are permits and licenses to own or possess a wild animal such as Bobcat, it is only approved in cases of special reasons that include education, rehabilitation, and research. 

Therefore, it is still illegal to own a wild animal as a pet. It is also worthwhile to note that Bobcats may not be a significant threat to human life, but humans cannot take care of it like a domestic cat. So, instead of trying to own them as a pet, just give them space and observe them from afar.

What To Do If You See a Bobcat in Iowa?

Well, you may think that Bobcats are not dangerous and so I can relax. No. While they don’t attack humans, they do bring various diseases from forests. 

So, always be cautious and take necessary precautions to stay away from their sight. One simple tip is to always maintain a distance from these species. Remember, while they might look like your next-door cute cats, Bobcats are just not that. Another important precaution is to never feed a Bobcat whether in the wild or near residential areas.

Also Check Our Guide On Bobcats In Colorado


And that was everything you need to know about the Bobcats in Iowa. I hope this article was infromative and your queries were answered.

Thank You For Reading!

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