Bobcats are intriguing creatures in Ohio

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is native to Ohio but was once extirpated from the state in 1850 due to the early settlement. In 1997, Division of Wildlife initiated a project to systematically monitor the status on bobcats in the state.

In 2011, there was confirmation of 136 sightings, which is an increase since 2010 of 106 sightings. These reports of confirmation consist of pictures, tracks, road kill, incidental trapping and sightings of Division of Wildlife personnel. The majority of the verified reports sustain in Noble County and surrounding counties.

The bobcat was on the Ohio endangered species list but now has been changed to the threatened list in 2012. Bobcats, like anything else, are fighting for survival, which is a daily challenge.

The young are preyed upon by foxes, owls, eagles, coyotes and adult male bobcats. The bobcat can live up to 12 years in the wild but the average is much shorter. Bobcats are carnivores that like to prey upon rabbits, white-tail deer, birds, fish, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.

Morning and evening

Bobcats are crepuscular, which means they are active in the early evening and morning hours. They may be seen during the day or night.

Bobcats can be found in a variety of habitats from lowland areas to upland forests. A bobcat’s home range can be .2 to 78 square miles. The home range location is determined from the availability of food, shelter, animal’s sex, geographic region, population density, and the area’s defensibility.

How they look

The coat of a bobcat is short and varies in color from light gray, yellowish brown, buff brown, and reddish brown. The under parts and inside the legs are white with dark spots. The tail, tip of the ear, and the back side of the ear are black. The back side of the ear will also have white spots.

The tail is 5-6 inches long. The adult male can be 32-37 inches long weighing 12-68 pounds and the adult female can be 29-34 inches long, weighing 9-34 pounds.The track of a bobcat is four toes with no claw marks, due to the retractable claws. The front foot and hind foot is 1.9 inches by 1.75 inches. Bobcat scat is in segments, which usually contain the hair and bones of its prey.

The young

Bobcats are polygamous, meaning the male breeds with more than one female. Breeding can occur anytime but mostly from December through May. The gestation period is 63 days and the kits are dependent upon the female mother.

Typically there is just one litter a year with one-six kittens, but if the litter is lost, a second litter will be produced. The young are weaned at eight weeks and will disperse in the fall or late winter. The females are sexually mature at nine-12 months and the males are sexually mature at 18 months.

Bobcats are an amazing specie among others here in Ohio. All wildlife species are vital to our ecosystem. The increasing number of bobcats helps contribute to our wildlife diversity that we are able to observe and appreciate.

About the Author

Liza Butler is the new Wildlife/Forestry Specialist for Belmont SWCD. She has a Bachelors degree in Conservation and Management from the University of Zanesville. Liza can be reached at 740-526-0027 or butlerswcd@att.net. More Stories by Liza Butler

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