COLUMBUS -- The number of verified bobcat sightings in Ohio in 2012 increased to 169, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). This marks the third consecutive year that more 100 verified bobcat sightings were recognized in the state.
ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists verified 136 and 106 sightings in 2011 and 2010, respectively. Of the 169 verified sightings in 2012, most occurred in Noble County and the counties immediately adjacent. Overall, observers in 31 counties reported a verified bobcat sighting.
To report a bobcat sighting, call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or email wildInfo@dnr.state.oh.us. Sightings are verified by ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists and have increased steadily during the last decade. The bobcat is listed as a threatened species in Ohio and is protected by state law.
Bobcats once roamed across Ohio, but they were extirpated around 1850 as more people settled within the state. A handful of unverified bobcat sightings in the 1960s announced the return of the species. Bobcat sightings have been verified in 43 counties since 1970, with unverified sightings in 84 counties.
A bobcat may be verified with photographs of the animal or its tracks; road kill recovery and sightings by ODNR Division of Wildlife personnel; and encounters through incidental trappings, which are followed by the animal's release. The number of bobcat sightings confirmed from trail cameras has increased dramatically since 2006, and most verified sightings in 2012 were documented by these cameras.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife uses technology to clarify estimated bobcat populations because it is rare to see them in the wild. To help them with their research, biologists use remote cameras and scent stations. GPS radio collars are used to track the location of bobcats after catching and releasing them.
Efforts to learn more about the locations of bobcats are supported by the Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund. Ohioans give donations to this fund through the state income tax check-off program and by purchasing cardinal license plates. People may also make donations at wildohio.com.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at ohiodnr.gov.