Connecticut continues bobcat study

Connecticut’s DEEP Wildlife Division is conducting an ongoing project to determine bobcat habitat use within the state.

 Photo: Connecticut DEEP

Photo: Connecticut DEEP

The project began in 2017 to better understand the wild cat’s habitat use within different housing densities in Connecticut. State biologists are interested in how Connecticut's bobcats are meeting their individual needs - both in rural and suburban areas. The project has also included gathering data on reproduction and general survival.

According to Connecticut DEEP, “The bobcat population has since recovered due to improving forest habitat conditions and legal protections. By 1825, only 25% of Connecticut was forested due to a loss of trees from agricultural activities and other uses of timber. Today, close to 60% of Connecticut is now covered in forest, and bobcats are regularly observed throughout the state.”

 Photo: Connecticut DEEP

Photo: Connecticut DEEP

Data from the project will be used to determine the abundance and population range of bobcats in the state. DEEP is also collecting road-killed ‘cats for examination of stomach contents, to better understand dietary trends. Members of the public who come across road-killed ‘cats are urged to call the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 and provide location details.

Local trappers have assisted the Department with live-trapping bobcats. Data from trapped bobcats included record of individual weight, age, and sex. In addition, 50 ‘cats were fitted with a radio collar tracking system, giving the Department valuable tracking data via telemetry. All of the collars were programmed to automatically detach in August of 2018, and DEEP is asking residents to contact the agency if they find one of these collars.

Additionally, the state is asking citizens to report sightings via the state’s Facebook page, or via email.

“Getting information on where people are observing bobcats would be extremely helpful in our effort to determine abundance and range.” the Department states.

DEEP has stated that observations can be live sightings, roadkill/deceased, trail camera photos, or signs and tracks of bobcats. The state requests a date of when the sighting took place, the specific town, the number of individuals observed, and whether any individuals had ear tags or a radio collar.

 A snapshot of citizen-reported sightings of bobcats in, and around the state of Connecticut. (Photo:  INaturalist.org )

A snapshot of citizen-reported sightings of bobcats in, and around the state of Connecticut. (Photo: INaturalist.org)

New Hampshire conducted a similar bobcat study starting in 2010, and continued for six years. The study was spearheaded by UNH, and included cooperation with NH Fish & Game, as well as local citizens and skilled licensed trappers. New Hampshire and Vermont state agencies both continue to collect bobcat tissue samples for ongoing study during regulated trapping seasons (Vermont) and road-kill incidents (New Hampshire).