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You may be wondering what sort of wildlife you can you expect to see in rural New Hampshire.

Here's a short list:

  • Black bears
  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Bobcats
  • Deer
  • Wild boar
  • Bald eagles
  • A variety of owls, hawks or falcons

We also have the usual assortment of skunks, porcupines, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums, groundhogs, raccoons and other critters you can find in most American states.

Otters, martens, mink, beavers, fishers (commonly called fisher cats), and varieties of weasels seem elusive.

What About Wolves or Cougars?

Officially, there are no cougars in New Hampshire. Specifically, the Fish and Wildlife Department states that there is no evidence of cougars in the area.

Many residents are adamant that cougars are present in the state. They say sightings are fleeting and unexpected and that's why no one has produced photographic (or track) evidence.

Locals also say that wolves have returned to New Hampshire.

What This Means for Fluffy

They'll also tell you that it's definitely not safe to let your cat out. That puts a cramp on a cat's natural desire for outdoor adventures.

Every town has a steady flow of new "cat missing" flyers up. And every cat adoption agency has one-eyed, one-eared, no-eared, bob-tailed, and 3-legged cats up for adoption. (No, you can't get a discount on felines with missing parts.)

That said, my neighbor's cat continues to live an indoor-outdoor cat, and is a stealthy hunter. It does have a sprinkling of tool sheds, barns, garages, and porches to dart into/under in an emergency. Most of its tail is missing.

I've seen bobcats and coyotes roaming during daylight. They're not always nocturnal.

If you have a cat, you should also be concerned about birds of prey. New Hampshire has some ferocious raptors including large bald eagles along the Connecticut River.

I once found 3 turkey vultures circling overhead while my cat was taking a nap on the back deck balcony. Thank goodness, turkey vultures don't attack living animals. But still, it made me aware of how quickly a bird of prey could size up your cat while you're only a few feet away.

House cats whose outdoor activities have been limited to chasing butterflies across manicured lawns will probably not survive being let outdoors in New Hampshire.

Other than the back balcony, I kept my late cat indoors and she chafed against the restriction, developing a form of cabin fever: an occasional mix of irritability and boredom.

If you have the option, choose a home that has enough interior space so that Fluffy the Cat run around at full speed and get adequate exercise.

Chloe the Cat, experiencing cabin fever.

Close Encounters

This past winter I looked up from my desk and caught a view of a coyote bounding over the blue-green ice ridges lining the eastern bank of the Connecticut River.

I ran to the next window and saw there actually two coyotes — one following the other.

Wild animals usually mind their own business.

During the spring, sitting at the same desk, I looked up to see a bobcat sauntering lazily across the grass. A few months later, a different bobcat made an appearance.

Once at night I got up to investigate a thump on the back porch, only to see a large owl — wholly unperturbed by my presence — sitting on the railing. He simply stared back at me. I'm pretty sure he had just scored a tasty midnight snack.

The day before Christmas Eve, 2019, someone spotted wild boar running in a ravine out back.

This summer, driving up a country two-lane road, I saw the car in front of me had stopped. I pulled up behind him, and quickly saw the reason for the hold-up: a huge black bear. This bear, like the owl, was unruffled by the presence of two cars. He took his time to meander across the road, and carefully inspected the view past the guardrail.

Not convinced that it was a good idea to complete his road crossing, the bear slowly padded up the side of the road towards my car and crossed diagonally back to the other side.

It's a thrill to be able to see these magnificent creatures up close in the wild — even if it's for a few fleeting moments.

Carry Some Bear Spray

I think it's wise to be prepared for an encounter with a wild animal like a bear, bobcat, or coyote.

All three usually mind their own business. And it's unlikely you'll have a problem with them if you mind your own business as well.

Exceptions are rabid bobcats or coyotes. In the U.S. there have been some rare fatal attacks by black bears.

A simple solution is to buy what's known as "bear spray" and always carry it with you.

Also — never approach a bear to get a selfie.