MADISON, Ind. (May 2004) Ask anyone about Indianas
wildlife population and youll probably hear plenty about deer,
wild turkey, rabbits, raccoons and squirrels. A less common and less
thought of presence among the wild animals of the state is the bobcat.
Similar in looks to and about the same size of a large house cat,
bobcats weigh an average of 15 to 30 pounds, range in length from
30 to 50 inches and stand about 24 inches in height. The animal gets
its name from its most distinguishing feature: a stubby tail that
is usually four or five inches long. Black spots or streaks typically
dot reddish-brown to grayish-brown fur on the animals back and
sides. The underbelly is usually white.
courtesy of the DNR
biologist Scott Johnson and assistant Cassie Conrad place a
collar on a bobcat.
On March 6, Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Larry Jones spotted what
he thought to be a bobcat that had been hit by a car lying on the
side of Hwy. 421 in front of Grandview Memorial Gardens in Jefferson
County. Jones called Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation
officer Andy Crozier, who upon examining the animal confirmed Jones
The bobcat had markings of a young male that Crozier recognized right
away. The most distinguishing were a short tail and pointy tuffs of
fur on the cheeks. Crozier said the bobcat weighed about 15 to 20
pounds and measured approximately 13 inches at the shoulder.
Although bobcats are native to Indiana, because of their elusive nature
they are not seen often. I personally have not seen one, but
every once in a while we do get reports, said Crozier.
Aware of a bobcat study being conducted by the DNR Division of Fish
and Wildlife, Crozier contacted state wildlife biologist Scott Johnson,
who since December 1998 has been involved in a study of the bobcat
population in south central Indiana. Capturing bobcats in padded foothold
traps, Johnson fits them with radio-collars for tracking. Also, just
under the skin between the shoulder blades he inserts micro-tags,
which can be detected by a special scanner, for future identification.
So far, Johnson has collared 30 bobcats. The animal found in Madison
was determined not to have been one of them. Most were captured in
Lawrence, Martin and Green counties. From there they have been located
in other parts of Indiana and even in neighboring states. One of the
bobcats collared by Johnson made it all the way into downtown Cincinnati,
where it was hit by a car. The fact that many of the bobcats being
tracked have traveled so far from their capture points has been one
of the more interesting discoveries, according to Johnson.
courtesy of the DNR
sedated bobcat prior to release.
Information from the study will help determine if bobcats are still
endangered, according to Johnson. We had very few confirmed
records in the 70s and 80s, he said, noting in the
90s road kills and accidental capturing of bobcats increased.
Bobcats are solitary animals and are very territorial. Rugged and
remote areas with cliffs, bluffs and rocky outcrops are common habitats,
but bobcats will make their homes in just about any environment.
The only type of land cover they dont do well in is intensive
agriculture, said Johnson. Bobcats may den in caves, hollow
trees and thick brush.
An endangered species in Indiana since 1970, the bobcat has been needlessly
destroyed due to the misperception that it is a dangerous and vicious
predator. In reality, bobcats avoid human contact, according to Johnson.
And because they prey mostly on small animals and rodents, their presence
is actually quite useful.
The bobcat is currently protected under provisions of the Indiana
Endangered Species Conservation act, which makes the capture and possession
of the animal illegal. The accidental trapping of a bobcat should
be reported to a local conservation officer. There is no penalty for
the report, but if the animal is dead it must be surrendered to the
To find out if bobcats live in Jefferson County, wildlife biologist
Teresa Vanosdol has set up a couple of cameras at the 50,000-acre
Big Oaks Wildlife Refuge with the hope of capturing the animals on
video should they be in the area. The cameras, part of a cursory bobcat
study, were placed near a couple of dense thickets that Vanosdol said
were likely bobcat habitats.
The goal of our study on the refuge is to document the presence
of bobcats, said Vanosdol. So far none have been seen.