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DEEP Asking for Public’s Help Studying Bobcats

The DEEP Wildlife Division is asking residents to report sightings of bobcats, particularly ones that have yellow ear tags or a GPS collar, like the one pictured above. Photo Credit: Michael Whittaker (Courtesy of DEEP)

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is conducting a longterm study of bobcats, which have been seen in West Hartford and throughout the state.

By Ronni Newton

GPS collars like this one have been placed on 50 bobcats throughout Connecticut to collect important movement data. The collars are programmed to fall off the bobcats by the end of March 2020. Photo Credit: Melissa Ruszczyk, DEEP Wildlife Division (Courtesy of DEEP)

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has fitted 50 bobcats with GPS collars, and is asking for the public to keep an eye out for the devices, which are designed to fall off after being worn for 300 days.

According to a news release issued this week by DEEP, the agency has been conducting an in-depth study of bobcats since 2017 – the Bobcat Research Project – and between November 2018 and March 2019, live-trapped 50 bobcats throughout the state and fitted them with GPS monitoring collars.

The purpose of the study, according to the DEEP Wildlife Division’s webpage, is “to investigate bobcat habitat use in different housing densities in Connecticut.” 

DEEP biologists are particularly interested in comparing the survival and reproduction success of the bobcat population in rural and suburban areas throughout the state.

“The information gained from this research will aid in the future conservation and management of bobcats in Connecticut and elsewhere,” Jason Hawley, the DEEP wildlife biologist leading the project, said in the news release.

The collars do not harm the animals, DEEP said, and fall off on their own.

The last of the GPS collars should be detaching over the next month or so, DEEP said, and will continue to transmit a signal until recovery by Wildlife Division staff.

Some of the collared bobcats have migrated out of state, to New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, DEEP said. Anyone who finds a collar, on their own property or while walking in the woods, is asked to contact the Wildlife Division at 860-424-3045 or [email protected].

DEEP is also encouraging residents to report sightings of bobcats, particularly those already wearing yellow ear tags. If the numbers on the yellow tags are visible, that information should be reported as well. Reports can be made on the DEEP website, via the Connecticut Fish and Wildlife Facebook page, or by emailing [email protected]

Anyone who finds a road-killed bobcat should contact the Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 and provide location details.

According to the DEEP website, “in Connecticut, bobcats prey on cottontail rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, white-tailed deer, birds, and, to a much lesser extent, insects and reptiles. Bobcats, on occasion, may also prey on unsupervised domestic animals, including small livestock and poultry.”

Bobcat attacks on people are extremely rare, DEEP’s website states, and are rarely rabid.

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