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On June 21, 2019, The Wildlife Society published the first article related to the bobcat research being conducted at Western Illinois University.

Estimating density and detection of bobcats in fragmented midwestern landscapes using spatial capture–recapture data from camera traps

ABSTRACT

Camera‐trapping data analyzed with spatially explicit capture–recapture (SCR) models can provide a rigorous method for estimating density of small populations of elusive carnivore species. We sought to develop and evaluate the efficacy of SCR models for estimating density of a presumed low‐density bobcat (Lynx rufus) population in fragmented landscapes of west‐central Illinois, USA. We analyzed camera‐trapping data from 49 camera stations in a 1,458‐km2 area deployed over a 77‐day period from 1 February to 18 April 2017. Mean operational time of cameras was 52 days (range = 32–67 days). We captured 23 uniquely identifiable bobcats 113 times and recaptured these same individuals 90 times; 15 of 23 (65.2%) individuals were recaptured at ≥2 camera traps. Total number of bobcat capture events was 139, of which 26 (18.7%) were discarded from analyses because of poor image quality or capture of only a part of an animal in photographs. Of 113 capture events used in analyses, 106 (93.8%) and 7 (6.2%) were classified as positive and tentative identifications, respectively; agreement on tentative identifications of bobcats was high (71.4%) among 3 observers. We photographed bobcats at 36 of 49 (73.5%) camera stations, of which 34 stations were used in analyses. We estimated bobcat density at 1.40 individuals (range = 1.00–2.02)/100 km 2. Our modeled bobcat density estimates are considerably below previously reported densities (30.5 individuals/100 km 2) within the state, and among the lowest yet recorded for the species. Nevertheless, use of remote cameras and SCR models was a viable technique for reliably estimating bobcat density across west‐central Illinois. Our research establishes ecological benchmarks for understanding potential effects of colonization, habitat fragmentation, and exploitation on future assessments of bobcat density using standardized methodologies that can be compared directly over time. Further application of SCR models that quantify specific costs of animal movements (i.e., least‐cost path models) while accounting for landscape connectivity has great utility and relevance for conservation and management of bobcat populations across fragmented Midwestern landscapes. © 2019 The Wildlife Society.

Link to full article: https://faculty.cnr.ncsu.edu/christophersdeperno/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2019/07/PR140-Bobcats-in-Illinois-WSB.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0m_d2fRoAB7_InZNhzyBEjJxKl60xlVb7Jb9-dx33plw9RGPBTOK5uorQ

What have we accomplished in 2019?

 

We started the year off presenting at Starved Rock State Park in January, then continued to present throughout the year for various organizations across Northern Illinois, including:

 

• Lake County Audubon Meeting in Libertyville, Illinois

• Wild Things Conference in Rosemont, Illinois

• McHenry County Conservation District Staff Meeting

• Go Green Drinks discussion in Barrington, Illinois

• Sand Bluff Bird Observatory’s Birdfest 2019 in Durand, Illinois

• Illinois Association of Community College Biologists at their 47th Annual Conference at Starved Rock State Park

• Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford, Illinois

 

And just last week we traveled to Springfield Illinois to meet with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources ("IDNR") Director Colleen Callahan and her staff to discuss the status of bobcats in our state.

 

Although there were no changes made to the administrative rule, Colleen listened to our concerns and we appreciate the opportunity to have had the discussion. Some of the concerns with the administrative rule that we expressed included how decisions are made, transparency of information, and the expansion of the geographical areas to hunt/trap.

 

Earlier this year, the IDNR made changes to wildlife code drastically changing the geographic zones in which bobcat taking would be allowed despite recent research demonstrating low population densities in west-central Illinois.

 

Preliminary findings from the bobcat study at Western Illinois University estimated bobcat density at 1.40 individuals (range = 1.00–2.02)/100 km 2. Their modeled bobcat density estimates are considerably below previously reported densities (30.5 individuals/100 km 2) within the state, and among the lowest yet recorded for the species.

 

We tried to bring media attention to this issue via:

 

WNIJ/NPR - https://www.northernpublicradio.org/post/upcoming-bobcat-season-brings-questions-impact-wild-population

 

One Illinois: https://www.oneillinois.com/stories/2019/10/18/bobcat-season-looms-despite-lowered-population-estimates

  

We will continue to advocate for bobcats in Illinois!

 

What would we like to accomplish in 2020?

 

• Participate in more events to provide education on bobcats, please contact us if you would like us present - see calendar of events for our upcoming presentations

• Support bobcat rehabilitation, as needed

 

Most importantly, we would like to host a half day bobcat summit/conference in Illinois and bring together legislators, experts, and concerned citizens regarding the status of the bobcat hunting legislation in Illinois.

 

How can you help and be a part our #GivingTuesday campaign to continue to provide education and advocacy?

 

• Consider making a donation - donations can be made via our website of via a Facebook Giving Tuesday Campaign

 

Thank you!

 

We’re a 100% volunteer based organization and appreciate your support!!

The Illinois Bobcat Foundation is proud to support the continued bobcat research at WIU with a recent donation to fund the purchase of ten additional VHF radio collars. These collars will be used as part of their bobcat survival monitoring, which is ongoing until 2019. Preliminary findings estimated annual survival is 51 percent.

Quarterly reports of this research can be reviewed via Dr. Jacques Wildlife Ecology Lab website: http://cn-jacques.wixsite.com/jacqueslab/reports

 

The holiday season is upon us! In the coming weeks, it will be hard to focus on the real meaning of the season with so many events, messages – and yes, appeals – bombarding us.

“Giving Tuesday’ is a movement that started in recent years as a response to the commercialization and consumerism of the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza beginning with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Everybody loves a bargain, but with so much attention focused on buying, it’s hard to remember the spirit of giving that’s at the heart of the holiday season.

November 28, we’re joining that national day of generosity. #GivingTuesday. It’s a day when you can make an impact on the Illinois Bobcat Foundation and the bobcats in Illinois.

With your help, we’ll raise funds to continue to advocate, educate, and help fund additional research for bobcats in Illinois.

What have we accomplished in 2017?

  • Raised money to fund seven radio tracking collars for bobcat research
  • Hosted an educational seminar at the Wildlife Discovery Center, which highlighted the most recent bobcat research in Illinois by Dr. Chris Jacques
  • Launched our website www.illinoisbobcat.org
  • Hosted an informational table at the Wild Things 2017 conference
  • Presented on bobcats in Illinois at a Sinnissippi Audubon event
  • Hosted a children’s activity booth at the Rockford City Market

What would we like to accomplish in 2018?

  • Provide educational resources on our website
  • Assist with additional bobcat research
  • Participate in events to provide education on bobcats
  • Support bobcat rehabilitation, as needed

How can you help and be a part our #GivingTuesday campaign?

  • Consider making a gift on #GivingTuesday – https://goo.gl/4Tnbaj
  • Help us get the word out on social media, follow us on Twitter and Facebook to share our #GivingTuesday posts

With your support, we can continue to do more through advocacy, education, and research for bobcats in Illinois.

The Illinois Bobcat Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness, engaging research and education on bobcats in Illinois. We recently funded the purchase of additional radio collars for a population study that was initiated by Christopher N. Jacques, Ph.D., CWB ®, Assistant Professor, Western Illinois University, Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Jacques and graduate student Tim Swearingen have been trying to determine the population density of bobcats in west-central Illinois. The study will help in being able to better judge this native cat's presence.

We are excited to welcome Dr. Jacques to speak about his research at the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, Il on September 14, 2017 at 5:30pm. Early arrival (prior to 5:30pm) is encouraged so you have an opportunity to visit resident bobcat, Boris! And ask his keeper questions.

Due to limited seating, registration is required, but this is a FREE event. Register at: https://goo.gl/wSaEzf an Eventbrite registration.

Please join us!

 

 

HB3399 passed in the House 104-1 earlier today and now heads to the Governor for a signature! This bill expands the closed areas for bobcat hunting and reduces the number of available permits.

Thank you to everyone that worked on this bill, especially Senator Harmon!

 

The House/Senate is back in seesion today - And we're waitiing for a vote on HB3399!

House Bill 3399 was sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and was the result of lengthy negotiations among Harmon, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Trappers Association.

“I am pleased that we were able to work with DNR and the trappers to set aside time for collecting more information about the bobcat population in the northern part of the state. We have quite a bit of information about the animals in southern Illinois, but we would like to know more about their habits and movements up north,” Harmon said.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make sure the bobcat population is strong enough to withstanding hunting and trapping statewide so that these animals don’t end up back on Illinois’ threatened species list.”

House Bill 3399 places a two-year ban on bobcat hunting and trapping in most counties in the Northern Illinois Hunting Zone, except for counties in the west and northwest portion of Illinois along the Mississippi River.

During the two-year ban, limits will be placed on the number of bobcats that can be taken in the Southern Zone and in the exempted counties. A maximum of 350 will be allowed during the 2017-2018 hunting season, and 375 will be allowed during the 2018-2019 season.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued 500 bobcat permits statewide during Illinois’ first bobcat hunting and trapping season since the 1970s, which ended Jan. 31. The top harvest counties were in the southern half of the state: Pike, Jackson, Jefferson, Carroll and Randolph counties.

http://www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com/caucus-news/blog-archive/5700-harmon-advances-two-year-ban-on-bobcat-hunting-in-northern-illinois

The Illinois Bobcat Foundation is helping to raise funds for Dr. Chris Jacques to purchase ten additional collars to monitor bobcats in Illinois.

The bobcat is the only native cat of Illinois. Bobcats, named for their short, bobbed tail, are about twice the size of a common house cat. They use their keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, squirrels, small rodents and some birds. They are nocturnal, reclusive animals that prefer forested or wooded areas. In 2014, legislation was introduced to remove the ban on trapping/hunting bobcat. The first season in over 40 years was underway by November 2016. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) estimates the bobcat population has grown to 5,000 statewide, mostly in southern regions. This estimate is based on Southern Illinois University research and observations from hunters. A more recent study was started by Dr. Chris Jacques at Western Illinois University in 2015. Dr. Jacques and graduate student Tim Swearingen have been trying to determine the density of bobcats in west-central Illinois. The study will help in being able to better judge this native cat's presence. Dr. Jacques hopes to be able to replicate their efforts to other areas of the State too.

Donors that contribute $850 (the cost of one collar) will able to learn about the bobcat that's wearing it! You will receive a notification when it's attached to a bobcat, whether it's a male or female, etc. But any donation can make a difference, even $5!

Please consider contributing to this ongoing research, thank you! And thank you to everyone that has already!

Donations can be mailed directly to the foundation at P.O. box 246, Lake Forest IL 60045 or made via our online campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/collars-for-bobcats

Update: On May 29th, Senator Harmon passed HB3399 out of the Senate. This bill replaces the previous SB1981. It went to the House floor on May 31st, but it never reached a vote before the spring session ended. The deadline is now June 30th for a full vote. It must pass with a 3/5 majority.

We'd prefer to see a moratorium on hunting altogether, but this is still very good news! It expands the "no hunting zone" and reduces the number of permits allowed.

The amended text added to HB3399 states: "Amends the Wildlife Code. Provides that it shall be unlawful for any person to hunt or trap bobcat in this State on and after the effective date of the bill in the counties of Boone, Bureau, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, DeWitt, DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Henry, Iroquois, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, McHenry, McLean, Ogle, Peoria, Piatt, Putnam, Stark, Stephenson, Vermilion, Will, Winnebago, Woodford, and north of U.S. Route 36 in Edgar and Douglas and north of U.S. Route 36 to the junction with Illinois Route 121 and north or east of Illinois Route 121 in Macon. Provides that for the season beginning in 2017, a total number of 350 bobcats may be hunted or trapped lawfully, or the conclusion of the season occurs, whichever is earlier. Provides that for the season beginning in 2018, a total number of 375 bobcats may be hunted or trapped lawfully, or the conclusion of the season occurs, whichever is earlier. Provides for a sunset of this provision on June 30, 2019. Effective July 1, 2017."

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=HB&DocNum=3399&GAID=14&SessionID=91&LegID=105170