DEEP: Bobcats in Connecticut

Bobcats in Connecticut
Understanding Bobcats in the Constitution State


{Bobcat tracks}
Making a Comeback
Connecticut's once dwindling bobcat population was facing extirpation until 1972 when unregulated exploitation was halted and the bobcat was reclassified as a protected furbearer with no hunting or trapping seasons. The bobcat population has since recovered due to improving forest habitat conditions and legal protections. By 1825, only 25% of Connecticut was forested due to a loss of trees from agricultural activities and other uses of timber. Today, close to 60% of Connecticut is now covered in forest, and bobcats are regularly observed throughout the state.
 
Just how abundant is the state's bobcat population? This is only one question the Wildlife Division is trying to answer with its Bobcat Project.
 
{Bobcat teeth}
Connecticut's Top Predator
It is important to monitor the bobcat population because the presence of these top predators affects many other species, including prey species and competing predators.
 
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.
 
Do bobcats have a preferred prey? Which food sources in Connecticut do bobcats depend on most? To answer these questions, along with others, the Wildlife Division is examining stomach contents to better understand the diet of bobcats living in our state.
 
 
{Bobcat being measured}
The DEEP Wildlife Division initiated a bobcat study in 2017 to evaluate diet and habitat use and also estimate the statewide abundance of bobcats. Biologists want to determine how the state's bobcats meet their needs for food and shelter in both rural and suburban areas, as well as how successful bobcats are at reproduction and survival.
 
Methods: With the assistance of local trappers, the Wildlife Division live-trapped bobcats from fall 2017 into early winter 2018. All live-trapped bobcats were marked with yellow ear tags and 50 were fitted with GPS (Global Positioning System) collars. Biologists also collected important data from each bobcat, including weight, age, and sex.
 
Telemetry and GPS Collars: Radio telemetry is a valuable tool that allows biologists to track animals from a distance. In general, biologists are able answer questions related to the location, dispersal, migration, activity patterns, and home range of the target animal.
 
{Bobcat }
Inside the Stomach: To help determine the diet of bobcats, biologists are collecting road-killed bobcats so the stomach contents can be examined.
 
Anyone who finds a ROAD-KILLED BOBCAT is urged to call the Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 and provide location details. (Please DO NOT report sightings of live bobcats at this number -- see below on how to report sightings.) To ensure the bobcat carcass remains until DEEP staff are able to collect it, we additionally ask (if the situation is SAFE) that you move the bobcat further from the road and cover it with branches or a bag.
 
Citizen Science: Report Your Observations!
To determine bobcat abundance and distribution, we are relying on help from Connecticut residents to report observations of bobcats. Reports from the public are greatly appreciated and will be invaluable towards understanding the current bobcat population in Connecticut.
 
Observations can be reported in three different ways: {Bobcat with GPS collar. }
When recording a sighting by any of these three ways, please provide the following information: 
  • Date and specific location (including town) of the sighting
  • Number of bobcats observed
  • If there are visible ear tags or collars on the bobcat(s)
  • If the sighting is from a trail camera (and you are able to positively identify the animal as a bobcat)
  • Additional comments or contact information with your observations also are useful.
{Bobcat with iNaturalist logo.}
iNaturalist
iNaturalist will hopefully become the quickest and best way to record a sighting. It is a free phone app that allows you to record observations and add them to scientific projects, share them with other users, and discuss findings with experts and others.
How to Use iNaturalist
To join and start recording your bobcat observations, sign up for free on the app or online at iNaturalist.
  • Make sure you are on the "CT Bobcat Project" page. If not, you can search for the page. 
  • Select the “Add to Observations” tab on the observation form to add your sighting. 
  • Select a specific point on the map where the sighting occurred (automatically inputs coordinates to the database and saves time).
We greatly appreciate the time and effort of Connecticut residents to report their bobcat sightings. This study would not be possible without volunteer assistance.
 
Visit the Wildlife Division's Volunteer and Citizen Science page to learn about additional opportunities.
 
Content last updated on April 2018.