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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

We reported a couple of months back on how Bobcats are starting to spread out and recolonize all sections of Ohio..........From their solid base of operations in the rolling hills in the southeast(West Virginia as well as Pennsylvania are the source points for "Bob's" dispersal), the "cats" have been seen in both the northwest and northeastern counties........Still getting protection as an endangered species, biologists are conjecturing that it will be at least 5 more years before a hunting/trapping season would be considered as only 20% of viable habitat has a reproducing population currently.........Gone from the Ohio since 1850 due to land conversion and human persecution, maturing woodlands and restored strip mine sites might harbor as many as 1000 of these carnivores today..............Evidence thus far has them consuming voles, rabbits, mice and squirrels.......Deer have not turned up in the stomachs nor has turkeys........

Outdoors: Bobcats returning to Ohio

Tenuous population still not open to trapping

Bobcats weigh on average 15 pounds (females) to 28 pounds (males).

By Dave Golowenski
For The Columbus Dispatch

Wilderness is not a requirement for some wild things, and that can be construed as fortunate for Ohio. While not entirely a manicured maze of residential cul-de-sacs splayed amid cornfields, Ohio isn't exactly a zoological Eden, either.

It's remarkable, then, that bobcats are showing up in places where they haven't been seen in generations. Habitat has come a long way, as have the cats. Not long ago, the road-kill remains of a bobcat were picked up in Richland County, about an hour's drive northeast of Columbus. In November, a young male bobcat in farm-heavy Williams County in the northwest corner of the state was ensnared in a trap and later died after being untangled.

Although those two individuals fared poorly in their pioneering, most Ohio bobcats are doing well, said Suzie Prange, wildlife biologist with the Division of Wildlife. Not so well, though, that anyone should expect legal trapping in the very near future. Bobcats, the state's lone resident native wildcat species, remain listed as endangered. They will still be kept out of harm's way should the listing be downgraded to threatened. After that, who knows?

"I see the possibility of limited trapping in the foreseeable future," Prange said, although that future seems at least five years away. The bobcat's reappearance is relatively recent and, thus, fragile and somewhat tentative.

Extirpated by hunting and habitat loss some 160 years ago, the bobcat began to make a slow comeback in recent decades by emigrating from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. In recent years, the resurgence has accelerated.

Among a current statewide population that Prange says might approach 1,000 is a well-established cluster of bobcats in the former strip-mined terrain of Noble County, 100 or so miles southeast of Columbus. Reclaimed strip mines, where rocky outcroppings create sheltering overhangs and shrubby, grassy growth spawns rodents for dining, appear to be a preferred habitat.
Outside of that stronghold, bobcats appear to be more transient and less residential.
"In about 80 percent of the available habitat, they're not self-producing yet," Prange said.

The wildlife division has been trying to find out what's up with Ohio's bobcats. The research has established that the Noble County population is genetically distinct from bobcats in other relative strongholds in southern Ohio, including Shawnee State Forest and the Jackson-Vinton county area.
Autopsies on dead bobcats have revealed, Prange said, that the diet consists almost exclusively of voles, mice, squirrels and rabbits — with an occasional raccoon or muskrat. Based on the contents of about 100 stomachs, hunters should be happy to know that bobcats appear to pose little threat to Ohio's wild turkeys. "We've found two incidents of bird remains. We were a little surprised" the number was so few, Prange said.More surprising was the stomach contents of a Mahoning County bobcat, which had devoured a porcupine. Quills and a hind foot were unmistakable, although where an Ohio bobcat found a porcupine remains unanswered.

A more relevant question centers on how quickly the established bobcats of Noble County can link up with the more widespread and footloose population that isn't readily reproducing, if at all. Such a connection should facilitate more widespread breeding that one day is likely to stretch throughout much of southern and eastern Ohio, Prange said.

Although bobcats can vary widely in size and weight, adult males average about 28 pounds and adult females about 15 pounds. When trapped in Ohio, a bobcat must be released, which isn't overly difficult for an experienced trapper."They're not as bad in a trap as you would imagine," Prange said. When approached, they "cower down like most other things."

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