Big Cat Rescue quoted on Bobcats in the wild and used as a resource.
By LAUREN SONIS
"The first time I saw it, I thought, what is it? What kind of thing is it?" said Anastasia, 8. "I knew it was an animal."
Anastasia saw her first cat in June 2005. Since then, she has seen bobcats near her house in south
Anastasia’s mom, Stacey Zwenger, said the family doesn’t want to put up a fence; they find the cats fascinating and would rather just co-exist.
Some local residents said it wasn’t until recently that they saw their first bobcat, or at least noticed them.
Wildlife Management co-owner Darlene Kinard said the business answers mostly calls from
Other officials in Volusia and Flagler counties said their agencies haven’t had an increase in calls. Salli Combs, animal control director for
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Joy Hill said bobcats are common so the agency doesn’t study their population trends but devotes its limited resources to studying endangered cats, like panthers.
"Really, it’s generally felt that as predators their population is stable enough that it doesn’t warrant a real detailed investigation at this point," said Mark Asleson, a biologist with the commission.
He said the calls have been stable over the past three to five years and that bobcats have to adapt to encroaching human presence.
Asleson said the commission advises people to leave the cats alone and bring domestic cats indoors since they risk being a potential bobcat meal.
And Hill said pets like small dogs and house cats won’t defend themselves the same way a wild animal would.
CEO Carole Baskin of the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in
Dr. Mel Sunquist, a professor at the
"They’re just very secretive, and a lot of times, they’re active at night," he said. "So, your chances of seeing one are pretty slim."
Based on radio-tracking information, Sunquist estimates densities probably range from one cat every two to three square miles in excellent habitat with dense forest and lots of rabbits and rodents. With radio tracking, scientists collar animals with a transmitter and follow it with a receiver. The collars work like the anklets used for people on house arrest.
Dustin Devos, a park service specialist at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in
He said while it’s been a steady year at the park, people may be seeing more bobcats lately because the drought could cause them to look for water.
Devos said they’re also more active in the spring, during their mating season.
What is a bobcat?
The golden brown cats with retractable claws can reach 3 feet long, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Web site. Named for their short, stubby tails, they tend to sink their needle-like teeth into birds, small mammals and the occasional young, white-tailed deer.
What to do if you see one
Biologist Mark Asleson with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suggested people leave bobcats alone when they see one and bring pets inside.
Who can you call?
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, (352) 732-1225, or go to www.myfwc.com/critters/bobcat.htm.
Did You Know?
While bobcats live 12 to 13 years in the wild, in captivity they have lived more than 23 years.
· Often confused with their larger relative, the panther, bobcats can be found in the
· Bobcats generally are solitary animals. Although females never share territories, which are about five square miles, male territories — ranging from 25 to 30 square miles — can overlap.
· About 1 million bobcats remain in the wild in
SOURCE(S): Compiled by News Researcher Peggy Ellis from kidsplanet.org, bigcatrescue.org, animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu