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Monday, February 11, 2013

Kentucky study tracks bobcats, populations, and their habits

Few people ever see a Kentucky bobcat. However, it may be surprising to many folks that annually, more than 2,000 of the animals are harvested by hunting and trapping.
Now KDFWR biologists hope a study at the Green River wildlife area will lead to additional information about these wary furbearers.
Bobcats are found from border to border and are gray to brown in coloration. They are about twice the size of a domestic cat and adult males are usually from 14-40 pounds. Their stubby tail leads to their name, bobcat.
       In the January edition of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Steven Dobey wrote a piece about research taking place to learn more about the elusive creatures in the Bluegrass state.
According to Dobey, Kentucky wildlife biologists have been trapping these elusive cats to learn more about its population demographics and movement patterns.  
“Historically, bobcats have been a much sought-after furbearer in the Commonwealth and this trend continues today.  
“The most recent five-year average indicates that Kentucky’s statewide bobcat harvest averages 2,096 annually for hunters and trappers, with considerable variation in harvest from year to year.  
“Of particular interest is the trend that approximately 25 percent of bobcats harvested by gun since 2007 took place during a nine-day window when the modern gun season for deer was open statewide. 
“Ultimately, concerns for excessive harvest led to current research efforts to learn more about this furbearing species that is so iconic to Kentucky. 
“During the summer of 2012, Wildlife Division personnel implemented a systematic survey of Green River Lake WMA (GRLWMA) using remote cameras to document presence (and) absence of bobcats and identify occupancy patterns. Trapping efforts began in earnest this past October with a goal of equipping as many cats as possible with GPS-enabled radio collars. 
“In doing so, the Furbearer Program will obtain valuable data concerning habitat use, movement patterns, and survival.  Ultimately, data collected from study animals will provide valuable insight to the habitat requirements of bobcats and factors that influence survival rates. More so, these research efforts will greatly assist in the development of future harvest strategies as interest in this important furbearing species continues to grow. 
“Through mid-January, trapping efforts by project researchers have resulted in the capture of 14 (nine male, five female) bobcats. 
“Trapping efforts will continue through winter in an attempt to increase our sample size of radio collared cats on the study area of GRLWMA and some surrounding properties. “
Indiana DNR biologists also are studying bobcats. Several years ago, one cat that was captured, tagged, and released, made its way from central Indiana down to the Ohio River and somehow crossed the river. It was hit by a vehicle on Highway 60 in Breckenridge County.

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