Bobcats returning to native Buckeye state
Bobcats are making their way back to the Buckeye state.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), bobcats are native to Ohio. They are one of seven feral cats found in North America.
Suzie Prange, a research wildlife biologist for ODNR, explained that bobcats were driven from Ohio in the mid 1800s.
The cats were losing their habitat and it was common to kill carnivores at that time to protect crops or livestock.
According to the ODNR Web site, there were 94 verified bobcat sightings between 1970 and 2005. Twenty of those sightings were in 2005.
“They are coming back and they are doing it on their own,” said Prange.
Prange said bobcats thrive in woodlands with open areas because it is ideal for hunting and hiding.
She said they have been spotted in Ohio’s surrounding states and have been seen mostly in southeastern Ohio.
“Their habitat is recovering in Ohio so they are slowly coming back,” said Prange.
While there have been sightings, Prange said it is rare for people to see the cats.
“They are very shy and secretive,” she noted. “They will usually run off before anyone will spot them.”
A bobcat’s appearance resembles a domestic cat.
Prange said females usually weigh around 15 pounds, while males weigh in around 20 to 25 pounds.
Rabbits and rodents are their primary prey, but bobcats will also feed on insects, reptiles, fish, birds and other small mammals.
“They are solitary. They are largely nocturnal and they spend most of their time hunting,” said Prange.
While the bobcats are solitary, they are also territorial. The adult females have a low tolerance for other females in their territory. Males are more tolerant of other males.
Prange said the bobcat is a predator, but they are not a threat to humans or domestic animals.
“They will not attack a pet, like coyotes do,” said Prange. “They are nothing to worry about.”
Prange said bobcats are endangered in Ohio. ODNR hosts educational meetings to inform the public on bobcats. For more information or to report a bobcat sighting, call 1-800-wildlife.
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