Connecticut’s Bobcat Project
Trappers are also asked to report incidental capture of bobcats.
Connecticut’s dwindling bobcat population was facing extirpation until 1972 when unregulated exploitation was halted and the bobcat was reclassified as a protected furbearer with no hunting or trapping seasons. The population has since recovered, and bobcats are now regularly observed in the state. As top predators, it is important to monitor their population because their presence affects many other species, including competing predators, prey species, and animals in direct competition with prey. The DEEP Wildlife Division is currently conducting a bobcat study within the state for precisely these reasons.
The purpose of the study is to evaluate diet and habitat use and also estimate the statewide abundance of bobcats. The Wildlife Division is currently live-trapping bobcats and fitting them with GPS collars and ear tags. Our initial goal is to collar 50 bobcats and ear tag every bobcat captured.
Despite our success so far in capturing and tagging bobcats, we are still in need of help from local trappers. Any trappers that have an incidental bobcat capture are asked to call DEEP and report it. If it is an untagged bobcat, DEEP staff will most likely come out to tag the cat and release it. If the bobcat has already been tagged, please report the tag number when you call. The ear tags will be yellow with black numbers and should be easy to read. Collars should also be reported. This will help the population estimate aspect of the study through a capture/recapture model. To report a captured bobcat, call Furbearer Program biologists Jason Hawley (860-424-3045) or Geoff Krukar (860-424-3090) during work hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-4:00 PM). After work hours or on the weekend, call DEEP’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at 860-424-3333.
Hunters and trappers are a great resource for providing bobcat sightings. Observations can be reported in three different ways:
- Record observations through the app iNaturalist (available for free on Android and iOS).
- Send an email message and any photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Post sightings on our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/CTFishandWildlife.
iNaturalist will hopefully become the quickest and best way to record a sighting. It is a free phone app that allows you to record observations and add them to scientific projects, share them with other users, and discuss findings with experts and others. If you would like to help the Connecticut Bobcat Project, sign up for free on the app or online at www.inaturalist.org. Once you have created an account, you can search for our project – CT Bobcat Project – to join and start recording your bobcat observations. Just make sure you use the “Add to a project” tab on the observation form to add it to our project!
When recording a sighting by any of the three ways mentioned, it is important to provide information on the date and location of the sighting, the town in which the sighting took place, the number of bobcats observed, and whether you saw ear tags or collars on any of them. Sightings can be from a trail camera if you are able to positively identify the animal as a bobcat. Additional comments or contact information with your observations also are useful. Observations from the public are greatly appreciated and will be invaluable contributions towards understanding the current bobcat population in Connecticut.
To help determine the diet of bobcats, Division biologists will also be collecting road-killed bobcats so that stomach contents can be examined. Anyone who finds a road-killed bobcat is urged to call the Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 and provide location details. In addition, if it is at all possible to safely cover the bobcat with branches or a bag, or move it further from the road, it would help ensure that the bobcat is still there by the time DEEP staff are able to collect it.
We greatly appreciate the time and effort of Connecticut residents to report their bobcat sightings. This study would not be possible without volunteer assistance.