ATHENS, Ohio — Increased evidence of bobcats living in Ohio’s southeastern counties continues with the confirmation of 65 sightings by state wildlife officials during 2008, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
The reports show an increase from the 51 verified sightings in 2007.
The bobcat was found throughout Ohio during early settlement, but as land was converted for crops and communities the bobcat’s population declined. By 1850, the animal could no longer be found living in the state.
A handful of unverified sightings in the 1960s marked the bobcat’s unofficial return to Ohio. Since 1970, state wildlife biologists have verified 255 bobcat sightings in 31 counties.
Verification of the elusive bobcat includes photographs of the animal and its tracks; encounters through incidental trapping, from which animals are later released; recovery of road kill and sightings by Division of Wildlife personnel.
The majority of the 2008 verified reports occurred in Noble County and the immediate surrounding counties.
The year 2008 was the first year a verified bobcat sighting came in from Highland and Perry counties.
The Division of Wildlife also received 214 unverified bobcat sightings last year.
In 1997, the Division of Wildlife began monitoring bobcats in Ohio using a combination of field surveys and follow-up investigations of sightings.
These efforts have been supported by the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species fund, which receives donations from Ohioans through the state income tax check-off program and by the purchase of cardinal license plates.
Individuals wanting to donate to the fund can also make an online contribution at www.wildohio.com
The bobcat is listed as an endangered species in Ohio and protected by state law.