PITTSFIELD -- A trio of unexpected guests stopped by Raymond Jacoub's Barker Road home on Sunday.
While preparing breakfast, Jacoub, who lives in the lightly populated area around the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, was jolted from his morning routine when he was told by his girlfriend that the felines he noticed in the driveway earlier appeared a little too big to be feral cats.
Chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits regularly roam Jacoub's property, but on Sunday, a trio of seldom-seen bobcats showed up. The bobcats -- known as such for their short, bobbed tails and which have distinct tufts of fur on their ear tips and jowls -- circled his property for about 45 minutes.
"They were going all around" the property, said Jacoub. The bobcats eventually moseyed to the backyard.
They were probably hunting, Jacoub suspected.
While his girlfriend encouraged him to be careful, Jacoub grabbed his camera and went outside to snap a few photos after photographing from inside his house.
According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, recent studies in New England indicate that the bobcat population has been rising. While being rare in southeastern Massachusetts, bobcats are common to central and Western Massachusetts. Bobcats are approximately twice the size of a domestic house cat. (If you're wondering if a bobcat could be confused with one of those fabled mountain lion sightings in the Berkshires, a bobcat is far smaller and its tail is bobbed.
Compared to many other wildlife species, bobcats rarely cause conflict with human activities, according to the state website. Bobcats are described as shy, solitary and generally elusive animals.
"I am not really too concerned about them, but I was just excited," Jacoub said. "If it was a bear, that would be another story. I wasn't too worried about the bobcats. I think I used a reasonable amount of caution and I wasn't going to try and antagonize them right away."
Hunting bobcats was legal year-round until 1968, but by 1971, shooting bobcats was restricted to a hunting season.
As a new resident to Pittsfield, Jacoub said he welcomed the surprise. He got as close as 20 feet, while the bobcats ignored him and went along with their routine.
"It was a totally welcome and delightful event in my day," Jacoub said.
He did add he'll take extra notice when going outside late at night: "I might be more mindful and make a point to look around outside with the light on before going out."