By HANNAH NUSSER
For the first time, a bobcat sighting was verified in Northwest Ohio last week.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife verified the first bobcat sighting in the region on Nov. 13.
A male bobcat was found caught in a trap southeast of Montpelier in Williams County. The bobcat was found dead in the trap, which was intended for raccoons. Until now, all other reports have been unverifiable.
"I'm sure it was as much a surprise to them as it was to us that he found it," said Scott Butterworth, Northwest Ohio ODNR, Division of Wildlife, of the trapping in Ohio's Northwestern most county.
While a growing number of bobcats have been sighted in Ohio since 2000, area residents can rest easy knowing their chances of crossing paths with one of the wild felines are extremely slim. First of all, Fostoria's scarce and scattered wooded habitat is not conducive to bobcats, which thrive in wide expanses of brush and woods, Butterworth said.
"Your chances of seeing a bald eagle are greater than seeing a bobcat so it gives you an idea of how rare they are," Butterworth said. "Your chances of seeing a black bear are greater than seeing a bobcat in the right spot, not that you're going to see black bears in Fostoria, either."
Bobcats are known to exist in Ohio's heavily wooded southernmost counties, but this is the first documentation of one of the wild cats in the Northwest region. The state-endangered animals were eliminated in 1850 but have had 464 sightings since 1970, most of them tallied after 2000, according to a press release. The small wild cats are believed to be moving in from neighboring states like Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, Butterworth said.
The shy felines are secretive in nature and prefer to hunt in the early evening hours and at sunrise. They generally keep to themselves and are not a threat to humans unless cornered or threatened, Butterworth said.
"They're usually very wary and you're lucky to even get a glimpse of one in the wild," Butterworth said.
Male bobcats are usually between 32 and 37 inches long and weigh about 28 pounds. Females range anywhere from 29 to 34 inches in length and weigh an average of 15 pounds.
A typical bobcat diet includes rabbits and rodents; although, their diet may also include things like: insects, fish, birds, and even occasionally a deer.
The bobcat is a state endangered species and is fully protected in Ohio.
The Ohioan who caught the bobcat in Montpelier was not penalized because it was an accidental trapping, Butterworth said.
Anyone who believes to have seen a bobcat should contact their county wildlife officer, or call the ODNR, Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE
Be sure to try and get a picture so the sighting can be properly documented, Butterworth said.
"It would be a real treat to see one. "¦ It's been over a hundred years since they've been in that part of Ohio so it's pretty spectacular for them to be back."