Nicole Leslie caught an image and video of elusive bobcat in east Maple Ridge, Sunday. (Contributed)

Mom, kitten bobcat visit Maple Ridge backyard

Stopped and said hello Sunday, then disappeared into forest

At first, Nicole Leslie’s husband thought it was a stray cat checking things out in their east Maple Ridge backyard.

Only when it hopped up on the back fence of their Albion home Sunday did he realize it was a bit bigger than a house cat.

Nicole didn’t waste any time and grabbed her camera and got a picture of it standing on the top of the fence.

Her husband got some cellphone video, too, of some heart-warming seconds of the mother cat carefully walking on top of the fence, followed by a kitten just moments later.

“I grabbed my camera and ran to the front porch and caught it just in time there. She paused and was quite curious about me and the camera. She calmly turned around and hopped down after that.”

Her neighbours have a critter cam and have said bobcats are regular visitors. But until Sunday, Nicole had never seen them.

Nicole, who lives on Kimola Drive, has seen many wildlife visitors this year, including a crane, beaver, bear, raccoons and a salamander.

“We’ve had a crane, right in the yard, in the grass. It’s because of a pond behind us. We get all kinds of stuff. It’s pretty neat to see out there.”

She said there seems to be lots of small animals in the area as a food source.

“They’re very well fed. They look super healthy. You don’t think they’re going to be in such a residential area, but there sure seems to be a lot out there.”

She initially put the photos on to the Albion Neighbours Facebook group, drawing comments of “Beautiful. Amazing picture,” and “So cool.”

Conservation officer Todd Hunter said there’s a healthy population of bobcats in Metro Vancouver. The bobcats will hunt rabbits, which hide in blackberry bushes, as well as squirrels, rats and mice.

“In Metro Vancouver, we’ve received, in the last two years, more call volumes come in with sightings of bobcats around homes.”

Hunter cautioned people not to feed wildlife of any kind.

He asked people to be careful to not leave any type of food outdoors that can attract rats or mice or racoons, which in turn can attract predators, such as bobcats, cougars or bears.

People have to do everything they can to remove any kind of food outside their homes and make sure they don’t leave their small dogs or cats outside.

“The cougars, they’re preying on the raccoons more.”

Two reports have come in during October and November of cougars killing racoons from North Vancouver to Maple Ridge.

“If you’ve got animals coming to your property because of food … you can bring in other animals.”

Bears can also hunt deer.

“Those bears have been noted to prey on deer, right in people’s yards.”

There have been several reports of that happening in North Vancouver and in the Belcarra and Anmore areas of Port Moody.

“They’re [bears] omnivoires, they’ll eat anything. They’re known to take down game and feed off them, and they will. That’s why they’re dangerous. They’re fast. They may be fat, but they’re fast.”

Hunter said people should respect wildlife and don’t get too close.

“That’s what keeps them wild. Enjoy them at a distance and give them their space.”

Last month, a reader sent in a photo of a cougar calmly watching hikers pass by on a trail in UBC Research Forest.

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