Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bobcat Sightings More Frequent in New Jersey

A sighting this week of a bobcat in Boonton reminds residents that this endangered species exists in New Jersey and is making a comeback.

These cats, much larger then house cats and with tufted ears, are rarely seen by humans. They prefer to live in isolated large wooded and rocky areas away from homes.

The bobcat seen in Boonton Township was near the Splitrock Reservoir and is an area where deer, foxes, bears, and coyotes are not unusual sightings.

There have been a number of bobcats spotted in the area around the Picatinny Arsenal, a state zoologist told the Daily Record but they are most frequently found north of Route 80.

It seems that they are moving to other sections of Morris County. Although the bobcat population of this native NJ species is climbing in the state's northern region, they remain endangered in New Jersey.

The bobcat is a medium sized-cat, about two feet tall. It is larger than a housecat, but much smaller than the big cats like a cougar or lion. Adult females in NJ generally weigh between 18 and 25 lbs. while adult males can weigh as much as 35 lbs. Their fur ranges from yellowish brown to reddish brown and bears markings that vary from ‘tabby’ stripes to heavy spotting. They possess slightly tufted ears and a short bobbed tail (between three and seven inches long) that is black above at the tip. Generally they hunt both by night and day, although there is evidence to suggest that most hunting takes place at dawn and dusk.

The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted a restoration project where 24 bobcats captured in Maine were released in northern New Jersey from 1978-1982. By the 1990’s reports of bobcat sightings began to increase. Today, bobcat reports from northern NJ are on the increase. Unfortunately, so are the numbers of bobcats killed by automobiles on our highways. During a one year period between 2008 and 2009, fourteen bobcats were observed on NJ roads and ten of these were hit by cars.