50 state bobcats to lose GPS collars on Aug. 1
Come Aug. 1, about 50 bobcats in Connecticut will be free of their GPS collars.
On that date, the collars around the necks of the bobcats are programmed to automatically detach.
Why, you may ask, are these regal beasts wearing collars?
The collars were placed on the bobcats, after they were tranquilized, by the staff from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division.
In 2017, DEEP’s Wildlife Division began the Connecticut Bobcat Project 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.
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 Global Positioning System collars. Biologists also collected important data from each bobcat, including weight, age, and sex.
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.
“These collars have been collecting and transmitting important data about our state's bobcat population,” DEEP said in the July edition of Wildlife Highlights.
“All of the collars are programmed to automatically detach from the animals on August 1, 2018. Once that happens, staff will be working diligently to recover the collars (which will still be transmitting signals) from throughout the state.”
DEEP asks that if anyone happens to find a collar in their yard or while walking in the woods, please contact the Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3045 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will make arrangements to retrieve it from you.
DEEP biologists say the bobcat population in Connecticut has been increasing over recent years. The bobcat is the only wild cat found in Connecticut and the most common wild cat in North America. Once viewed as a threat to agriculture and game species, Connecticut had a bounty on bobcats from 1935-1971. In 1972, the bobcat was reclassified as a protected furbearer in Connecticut with no hunting or trapping seasons.
Their diet ranges from rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, and white-tail deer, to domestic livestock, poultry and pets, especially cats and small dogs. Bobcat attacks on humans are extremely rare.
Nonetheless, police have often put out advisories when bobcats were spotted in their towns. Recent bobcat sightings have been reported in Oxford, Shelton, Fairfield, Woodbridge, Trumbull, Wilton, Newtown, New Fairfield and Orange.
Sightings and vehicle-kill reports done by the DEEP show that bobcats are in all eight of the state’s counties — with the largest numbers in the northwestern corner of Connecticut.
On average, there are between 20 to 30 vehicle-kills of bobcats a year. Each kill is collected and examined for physical fitness, age and breeding conditions. All this information is compiled by the DEEP for its ongoing study into bobcats.
Bobcats are known to inhabit forested areas. They prefer brushy lowlands and swamps. Their territories can range in the Northeast part of the country from 8 to 20 square miles. On a daily basis, bobcats are known to travel anywhere from 1 to 4 miles.
Bobcats are most active just after dusk and before dawn, and are patient hunters, meaning that they spend significant time crouching, waiting, stalking, and then ambushing their prey.