For most of this winter my cabin has been surrounded, continually, by the tracks of a four-footed carnivore – whom I have yet to see in the flesh. He criss-crosses the property, sometimes crossing my lawn multiple times per night. I have seen his tracks go under my extension and through the middle of my garden. For the past few days I had a block of stale bread out in front of my house, which the birds were pecking at; when I got up yesterday I found the tracks of my four-footed friend where the bread had been, but the bread itself was gone. Yesterday I stepped outside around eight p.m. to watch the progress of the storm, and was surprised to see fresh tracks go right by my house; he had passed by sometime after six p.m. when I had most recently been out. At eleven p.m. I went outside again, and found circles of his tracks just ten feet from my front door: this close a visit with my lights on and the generator going.
I feel confounded by these close visits coupled with my inability to actually see this animal. Sitting in the darkness staring out the window, I must confess, gets boring after about a half-hour, and even if I were to do that there would be no guarantee of seeing him. The darkness on some nights is impenetrable, and I would not be able to see him even if he were ten feet away. And occasionally shining a light into the darkness might frighten him away before he even got close. Yet there is no other obvious low-tech solution.
I feel reasonably confident that a bobcat has visited the property this winter, and this may be the same animal. But there is also a chance that this is a fox, as this kind of boldness – and omnivorousness – suggests the mind of a fox. The tracks have been very indistinct in the wind and snow – they are obviously the tracks of a small, dainty carnivore (which is not a coyote, whose tracks are slightly different in shape). As usual I am having camera troubles, but sometimes bad photos are better than no photos.