Federal grants fund study of suburban bobcats
By Wilson Ring, Associated Press Writer | April 15, 2006
Biologists were keen to know where she's been and where she's going. The cat, dubbed B15, was outfitted with a radio collar in January. And Mark Freeman and Olivia LaMaistre of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department were tracking her through the back roads of the state's most populous county.
"She's probably maybe a football field and a half in front of us," Freeman said after locating the cat with a directional antenna. "She's right off in that scrub, some of the thicker stuff maybe."
Freeman and LaMaistre's search, which is helping to judge the health of
There are also programs to protect bats in
Those are among projects in all 50 states, the
"The whole intent of state wildlife grants is to keep common species common and address species conservation needs before they become endangered," said Dee Mazzarese, who helps administer the grants for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from
"For a lot of these species it's the first time any biologist has had a chance to spend any time on them," said Jon Kart, who has helped coordinate state plans.
Freeman and LaMaistre's tracking of bobcat B15 is helping determine how a species that's typically wary of humans is faring in areas where development is moving into what until recently were rural areas. Bobcats can be found throughout the
"We know that bobcats are a fairly adaptable animal," said Royar. "We're hoping we'll have a scientific basis for conservation planning."
There's plenty of that habitat in the area where Freeman and LaMaistre are tracking the bobcats.
"What I am surprised about is the number of cats in the (
It's the same area where new homes are filling abandoned farm fields, once ideal hunting ground for the bobcats. They feed on song birds, turkeys, partridge, mice, the occasional rabbit and the even more occasional deer.
Freeman has led a team that started trapping the bobcats last spring. The cats are lured into box cages using beaver carcasses and other bait.
Over the course of the season the team caught 20 cats. Some were too small to outfit with radio collars and were released. Fifteen cats were collared. One was hit by a car and other bobcats either were outfitted with collars that didn't work or were able to drop them in the wilderness. Four cats are now being tracked.
The collars, designed to fall off after 130 days, have equipment to track a bobcat's travels, which will be fed into a computer after the collars are retrieved.
B15, a cat that had bred in the past, was trapped in January on the west side of Colchester Pond. Since then it's been tracked back and forth across Colchester, which lies just north of
The two researchers didn't see B15 that afternoon, nor did they want to. But they noted her location before getting back into their car and heading south of
They made no effort to spot the animals or let the bobcats know they were being followed.
"All we need to know is that they're OK," LaMaistre said.
On the Net:
The Teaming With Wildlife Coalition: http://www.teaming.com
Vermont Bobcat project: http://www.uvm.edu/%7Endodge/bobcat/
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife: http://www.anr.state.vt.us/fw/fwhome/
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