Monday, April 05, 2010

Researchers study bobcats in New Hampshire

5 questions about Bobcats

By BEN LEUBSDORF Monitor staff
April 05, 2010 - 8:04 am

Bobcats often thought to be elusive predators, appear to be on the rise in New Hampshire, where they've been protected from hunting and trapping since 1989. The Fish and Game Department and the University of New Hampshire hope to learn more about what they're up to and where they live. Fish and Game wildlife biologist Patrick Tate spoke with us about a study that began last year and will end in 2013.

So why bobcats? The situation developed in the state where it appeared bobcat numbers were increasing over the last five to seven years. . . . We started to ask the question, "What exactly is happening with our bobcat populations?"

How are you studying - tracking, I guess - the bobcats? We are using radio collars . . . to track them and to determine what areas they're using on the landscape. We're also collecting any roadkill animals that are reported to the department. We're taking genetics from those animals . . . to determine populations. . . . The collars are providing habitat modeling.

How many are you tracking now? We currently have 12 cats with radio collars on them . . . in the Keene area.

What have you learned so far? We haven't crunched any of the data; however, looking at the areas that they're traversing, we're finding that during the winter months they're having a strong reliance on wetlands areas, marshy areas. But we won't have any significant data for two years.

This is a cooperative study by Fish and Game and UNH, but specially permitted trappers are getting involved, too? To capture a cat takes a very unique skill set. They're not an animal that is easily sought after, and that is where trappers come into play. . . . They know the little tricks of how to capture those animals. . . . And it's a select few . . . not just anybody.

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