Those of us who have been around for better than five decades can remember Tweety Bird’s excited utterance in reference to his arduous adversary, Sylvester the Cat. Today we are starting to hear more folks on occasion, reiterating that familiar line, yet in reference to a different and slightly larger feline. What I am talking about is Ohio’s Lynx Rufus, more commonly known as the Bobcat!
One of seven wild cat species found in North America, the bobcat is a native to Ohio and was quite common throughout the state prior to settlement and its complete extirpation by the mid 1800’s. It took about another century before they started to make any comeback as they continued to expand their population where habitats are suitable.
The bobcat is actually beginning to show up in places in Ohio where they haven’t been seen for nearly 150 years. In fact, only recently have we learned about a ‘confirmed’ bobcat sighting right here in Erie County, as its presence was noted on an individual’s trail cam! These sightings are the primary method used to track the bobcat’s population. Over the past five years, more than 500 confirmed sightings have been reported by the ODNR Division of Wildlife annually!
So, how likely are you to see a bobcat? The chances are very slim, since they are mostly nocturnal and are quite shy, characteristically looking to avoid human interaction. And there’s consolation in knowing that you really need not fear them. If ever encountered, just respect them and give them some space.
Bobcats, like coyotes and foxes, are really beneficial to us humans, in helping to manage rodent and other small critter populations, which also helps to ensure a healthy, well-balanced ecosystem. That’s one of the reasons why we are working diligently to improve wildlife habitat through plantings and preservation. You can also help our ODNR Division of Wildlife Biologists by reporting any bobcat sightings on their online app.!