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NH researchers seek public help in locating bobcats

From the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

-- New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department would like to hear from residents who observe the persistent presence of a bobcat in the area of southern Belknap County, northern Rockingham County, western Strafford County or eastern Merrimack County.

Fish and Game is working in partnership with researchers from the University of New Hampshire to assess bobcat distribution, abundance and behavior in the area centered at the junction of those four counties and in bordering towns.

This area ranges from Gilford in the north to Raymond in the south, and from Rochester in the east to Concord in the west. These towns constitute a significant portion of State Wildlife Management Units J2 and L.

A map of the study area is posted here.

Researchers ask that repeated bobcat sightings in this region be reported to wildlife biologist Pat Tate at (603) 868-1095. Tate, who is located at the regional office in Durham, will arrange for follow-up contact by bobcat researchers as circumstances warrant.

Researchers hope to capture from 5 to 10 adult bobcats and fit them with GPS telemetry collars that will provide valuable data regarding the animal's home-range, habitat use and preference, seasonal behavior and travel corridor use.  Data from the collars will be downloaded remotely.

Bobcats will be live-captured in baited cage-traps, then immobilized, examined, collared and released on site. A small team of cooperating trappers authorized by Fish and Game will capture animals for the study. UNH researchers and Fish and Game staff experienced in bobcat handling will immobilize and collar the study animals.

Bobcats can be difficult to capture, despite their growing abundance. According to Fish and Game biologist Mark Ellingwood, bobcats can become highly visible to residents from January to March, as increasing snow depth compels them to feed closer and closer to human dwellings in search of birds, squirrels and domestic animals including poultry.

"If you have a bobcat frequenting your property and are supportive of our research efforts, we'd sure appreciate hearing from you," Ellingwood said.  

For additional information on this study, or to report bobcat sightings from throughout New Hampshire, check the website developed by UNH researchers at  http://mlitvaitis.unh.edu/Research/BobcatWeb/bobcats.htm.

Sightings throughout the state enhance biologists' knowledge of bobcat distribution and abundance and directly complement the study findings, Ellingwood said.

This study is funded with Fish and Game Department licensing revenue, as well as Federal Wildlife Restoration funds derived from an excise tax on sporting goods, including firearms and ammunition.

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