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Bobcats in Rhode Island

Hunting Regulations Icon Rhode Island Hunting

By: Charles Brown, Principal Wildlife Biologist, RIDEM

Bobcats never completely disappeared from the Rhode Island landscape, as was the case for some furbearer species, but for many years the sighting of a bobcat was a rare occurrence. In recent years, the number of bobcat sightings has been increasing in the state and in surrounding states as well. The reason for the apparent increase is unclear. In cooperation with the University of Rhode Island, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is trying to get a better understanding of what the current status of the bobcat population is in our state, what habitat types are important to bobcats, and how they move through the landscape. To help gather information on the distribution of bobcats, the DFW is asking the public to report sightings of bobcats. We would be interested in knowing what type of activity was observed (crossing the road, walked by my tree stand, etc.), the time of day, and a general location. Photographs, including trail camera photos, would be appreciated.

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is widely distributed throughout North America, occurring in a wide variety of habitat types. Male bobcats can weigh more than 30 pounds, while females are generally smaller, weighing 15-20 pounds. They are typically solitary animals. Two or more together, especially during the late summer or fall, likely represents litter mates, who may travel together for some time after leaving the care of their mother. Small mammals – mice, voles, squirrels, woodchucks, and especially rabbits, make up much of their diet. It is not unusual for them to be active during the day, and they can travel significant distances. One juvenile male bobcat, which was part of the URI study and originally captured in Kingston, traveled from the Snug Harbor area to Stonington, CT, and then back to Bonnet Shores during a several week period. Traveling that kind of distance in our state requires numerous road crossings, a dangerous endeavor and likely a significant mortality factor for bobcats in our area.
Bobcats are classified as a furbearer in Rhode Island, and are protected by regulation. There is no open hunting or trapping season for bobcats. Bobcats found dead on the road may not be taken or possessed and should be reported to the DFW or DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement (401-222-3070). To report a bobcat sighting please contact the DFW at DEM.DFW@dem.ri.gov or call 401-789-0281.