Thursday, December 28, 2006

Indiana trappers surprised by bobcat catch


WORTHINGTON - A pair of young trappers got a real surprise earlier this month when they caught a large-sized bobcat in Jefferson Township - about three miles west of Worthington.

Fifteen-year-old Eldon Martin and his 13-year-old brother have been trapping about a year with coons and foxes as their prime targets.

When they ran their cable-type snare on Dec. 8 they were amazed at their catch - a 28-pound bobcat that measured approximately 30 inches in length.

“It was a big cat,” the boy's father, Amos Martin, recently told The Daily World.

He said he had never previously seen a bobcat on his dairy farm property that is located near the Jefferson-Smith township.

“Absolutely, this was a surprise to them,” Amos Martin stated. “At first they were a little bit worried that they'd get in trouble.”

They found a telephone number in a state trapping law publication and called it to alert officials about their catch.

The bobcat carcass was then turned over to Indiana Department of Resources officials for examination.

The bobcat is a wild cat native to North America. They are found mostly in the United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico. The bobcat is an adaptable animal that inhabits wooded areas as well as semi-desert, urban, and swampland environments. They live in a set home range which shifts in size with the season.

In appearance, the bobcat has characteristic black bars on its forelegs and tail. They also have prominent, pointed ears with short tufts of black hair at the tip. Their coat is most often light gray or various shades of brown in color, with varying degrees of black spots either dispersed along much of their body or relegated to the otherwise white underparts.

The bobcat is twice as large as a house cat but typically smaller than the related Canada lynx, according to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia.

Amos Martin said the “cat” did not have a radio-detection device or any other banding to indicate it was part of a DNR tracking study that has been under way for several years at the nearby Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.

The NSWC/DNR bobcat program started in 1998 to discover more information on the native bobcat habitat. Other information regarding the animal's home range and movement patterns have helped Indiana biologist learn more about the wild cat.

Most of the bobcats in this area are in the eastern Greene/Crane area, IDR Conservation Officer Greg Swanson told The Daily World.

“It's unusual for you to see one. They don't like people,” he said.

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