Ohio Bobcat Population Increases: Limited Trapping Season in the Future?
Across the state of Ohio, it is becoming more and more common for hunters to find images of bobcats on their deer cameras. In certain Southeastern parts of the state, hunters are not even surprised anymore when they do. Ohio bobcat numbers have been on a steady incline over the past several years, and verified sightings came from 31 of our 88 counties last year. With bobcat populations seeming to be steady in certain counties, trappers are starting to murmur thoughts of a limited season in the near future. That’s right, people are definitely talking about it, but is it really feasible in the near term?
In 2012, the ODNR reported 169 verified bobcat sightings across the Buckeye state and estimated a total population of between 800-1000 statewide. That was an increase over the 136 verified sightings in 2011 and 106 in 2010. Most of the activity is in the Southeastern portion of the state around Noble county, but 31 counties did have verified sightings. Counties with the highest numbers of verified sightings were: Noble, 23, Monroe, 21, and Morgan, 18, Guernsey, 14 and Belmont and Washington, 12. With the popularity of trail cameras, verified sightings are much easier to confirm even though many sightings go unreported each year.
So what does this mean for Ohio sportsman? Probably nothing right now, but as populations continue to increase, the chance for Ohio trappers to bag their first bobcat increase as well. We can look to the Ohio otter as an example. In the mid-1980′s, the Ohio otter population was decimated. The state began a reintroduction program in 1986 that was a complete success. Fast forward to 2005, and we have the first limited otter trapping season in Ohio. Fast forward again to last year (2012-2013), and the otter season is becoming less and less limited with populations continuing to thrive throughout the state. Maybe bobcats and otters are apples and oranges, but if numbers continue to grow like this we could be less than a decade away from a limited trapping season for bobcat. A trapper can dream anyway.
To report a bobcat sighting, call the ODNR: 1800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) or send an email to [email protected]