For the second year in a row, more than 100 bobcats have been shown to be living in Ohio’s southeastern counties with the confirmation of 136 sightings by state wildlife officials during 2011, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The reports show an increase from the 106 verified sightings in 2010.

The bobcat is listed as an endangered species in Ohio and is protected by state law.

Bobcats once roamed across Ohio during early settlement, but as more people settled within the state, their numbers diminished. By the year 1850, bobcats no longer lived in Ohio. However, a handful of unverified sightings of the bobcat in the 1960s announced the introduction of the return of the Ohio bobcat. Since 1970, there have been 691 bobcat sightings in 38 counties verified by state wildlife biologists.

The majority of wildcat-verified reports for 2011 occurred in Noble County and surrounding counties. The bobcat may be verified with photographs of the animal itself and its tracks; road kill recovery and sightings by Division of Wildlife personnel as well as encounters through incidental trappings, which are followed by the animals being released.

Since bobcats are typically elusive and it is rare for people to see them in the wild, the Division of Wildlife is using technology to clarify estimated populations of bobcats. To help them with their research, biologists use remote cameras and scent stations. Wildlife officials also use GPS radiocollars to track the location of bobcats after catching and releasing them.

The efforts to learn more about the locations of bobcats have been supported by the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species Fund. Ohioans give donations to this fund through the state income tax check-off program and by purchasing cardinal license plates. People may also make donations toward this cause online at wildohio.com.

Logo courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources

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