Bobcats are very mobile and can probably escape most fires. There are
no reports of direct bobcat mortality due to fire . Howard and
others saw a bobcat leaving burning brush in California, but found
no animals that had been injured or killed by the fire.

Fire may improve the foraging habitat and prey base of bobcats. Fires
that create a mosaic of burned and unburned areas including some open
areas and some cover are probably most beneficial to bobcats. Fires
that reduce vegetation height and create open areas probably increase
hunting efficiency. Surface fires often open substrates for quieter
stalking and easier capture of prey than can occur in closed forests
. Annual winter burning on a northern bobwhite (Colinus
virginianus) plantation may have improved stalking conditions for
bobcats which resulted in an increase in the local bobcat population

In California bobcats feed in recent (1-year-old) chaparral burns and
young (2- to 3-year-old) chaparral . Longhurst observed that
at the Hopland Field Station in California, populations of bobcats
increased in young to intermediate aged chaparral interspersed with
grassland. Bobcat populations showed a downward trend in both mature
chaparral (10 years old or more) and extensive grasslands.

Periodic fire helps to maintain habitat for many bobcat prey. Several
studies indicate that many small mammal populations increase rapidly
subsequent to fire in response to increased food availability

Cotton rats often leave burned areas immediately after fire, but they
return to burned areas to forage on green vegetation as the season
progresses. Cotton rats experience greater weight gains in burned than
unburned areas. Komarek reported effects of fire exclusion on
cotton rats and other grassland rodents in pine woods which had
previously been burned annually. After 4 years the cotton rat
population had decreased sharply. Fire at 3-year intervals would
provide optimum habitat for cotton rats as long as adequate amounts of
unburned areas were available as escape cover. Cottontail rabbit
responses to fire are apparently similar to those of the cotton rat
. Fire often improves hare and rabbit forage quality and quantity
for two or more growing seasons . Hill concluded that
burning in pine plantations in the Southeast at intervals longer than 2
years would be less beneficial to rabbits and hares than annual burns,
but any fire is better for these species than fire exclusion.

Prescribed burning that favors small mammals by creating ecotones and
different age classes of vegetation would increase the prey base for
bobcats and make hunting easier for them by opening up the habitat