A male bobcat was recently caught in a trap in Williams County, Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
Although known to exist in Ohio’s more heavily wooded southern counties, this is the first verified report of a bobcat in northwest Ohio. Until now, all other reports have been unverifiable.
According to the ODNR, bobcats were eliminated from the state in 1850 and have been making a recovery lately. Since 1970 there have been 464 verified sightings, with most occurring since 2000. The Indiana counties of Steuben and DeKalb, which neighbor Williams County, have documented reports of bobcats. In addition, Michigan has trapping and hunting seasons for bobcats in the northern portions of the state, with lower densities in the southern portions.
The ODNR believes that bobcats are moving in from neighboring states as their populations expand. Ohio’s southern bobcat populations have been genetically linked to neighboring states as well.
Trapping is regulated in Ohio by the ODNR-Division of Wildlife and is an important wildlife management tool. Properly set snares and foothold traps do not cause captured animals to die; rather, the traps merely restrain animals until the trapper arrives. Non-target species, such as bobcats, caught in snares and footholds can be released by knowledgeable personnel.
Bobcats are Ohio’s smallest native wild cat. Male bobcats are usually between 32 and 37 inches long and average 28 pounds. Females are usually smaller, ranging 29 to 34 inches in length with an average weight of 15 pounds. Regardless of their size, a bobcat’s tail is usually 5 to 6 inches long.
Generally, bobcats are secretive in nature, preferring to hunt in the early evening and a few hours at sunrise. Rather than chasing down their food, bobcats prefer to lie in wait and ambush their prey. Typical foods for bobcats include rabbits and rodents, although their diet may also include insects, fish, birds and even occasionally a deer.
Individuals are reminded that the bobcat is listed as a state endangered species and is afforded full protection in Ohio.
Anyone who believes they have seen a bobcat is encouraged to contact their county wildlife officer, or call the ODNR, Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE.