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Victoria Huson's Report on the Bobcat Species
Project Name : Victoria Huson's Report on the Bobcat Species
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The Bobcat
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Introduction

Lurking in the diverse habitats of North America, a lonesome predator fights for its survival. The bobcat lives on its own, left to fend for itself against competition, predators,  the growing concern of deforestation, and invasion of humans in their environments. In order to truly understand what makes this animal profound,  we must glance at every aspect of the bobcat's life; from the roots it derives from to the minute hairs on its back.


Findings

The bobcat can be found under the Animalia kingdom.  The presence of a segmented spinal column and a brain protected by an enclosed skull put them under the sub-phylum of Vertebrata and the phylum Chordata. They are classified as Mammalia because of their ability to birth live young. Bobcats are meat-eating organisms, which put them in the Carnivora order. The bobcat belongs to the Felidae family because of their close relations to other felines and the species Lynx rufus (Ciszek 2002, 8). Lynx referring to genus and rufus meaning "red-haired," which describes the red-brown fur most bobcats possess.   Its common name, the bobcat, is named for its short stubby tail (Peterson 2000, 1, 2).

Like its name suggests, bobcats are semi-related to today's cats and other felines because they fall under the same family (Anonymous 2012a, 1).  However, because of the species's genus as well as similarity in physical appearance, they are closely related to Canadian Lynx  and other species of Lynx (Mallow 2004, 3).  As for the direct line of where bobcats derive from, scientists believe the bobcat evolved from the Eurasian Lynx when it migrated to North America many years ago (Anonymous 2012a, 2).



Bobcats stretch across North America and can be found in most states in the USA as well as Mexico and parts of Canada (Ciszek 2002, 1). Because of this huge expanse of land, the bobcat as a species deals with many different types of environments including swamps, forests, grasslands, deserts, and mountain ranges (Anonymous 2012a, 14).  Their preferred habitat are forests and swamps because of the abundance of small animals and the many trees provided for shelter (Mallow 2004, 11, 12).

The bobcat is a medium sized animal - about twice the size of a normal house cat (Peterson 2000, 3). Being a very petite animal, its average weight is a mere twenty to thirty five pounds (Wetzel 2009, 14). The bobcat is a quadruped, meaning it walks on four short legs, like all animals in the Felidae family. In addition, the bobcat has four toes on its hind feet and five toes on its front feet in which it walks on. The fifth toe, however, is believed to be vestigial (Kapfer 2009, 4).

The bobcat has short, dense fur with signature spots and the color of these features vary depending on region.  As the bobcat population wanders farther toward the north, they tend to have gray fur and light spots (Ickes, Keenlance 2009, 1, 2). Their red-brown colors are  found in forest habitats where their coloring enables them to camouflage successfully  (Peterson 2000, 2). Another feature which is signature to the bobcat is its pointed ears and a short tail which its name derived from (Peterson 2000, 2).

In order for the bobcats to be able to live in so many diverse environments, they must adapt to their surroundings. They mainly eat small animals like rabbits and rodents but are also known to eat squirrels, fish, and even insects (Anonymous 2012a, 16). Their diets usually depend on what food source is most abundant, and take advantage of what's easy to find and catch. When their preferred foods are scarce, bobcats attack larger prey like white tailed deer (Kapfer 2009, 9). When hunting prey, bobcats try and limit their movements and lay in wait for their prey to come to them. If they are prompted to chase their prey, bobcats will only run for about 60 feet and then seek an easier catch (Prange 2012, 4). Even though they limit their movements when hunting, bobcats are equipped with legs ready to pounce, climb trees, and pick up speed when they need it (Sharp 2010, 9).  Another useful hunting tool is the bobcats' short digestive tract which makes the body light and easier to accelerate (Kapfer 2009, 8).

Bobcats are territorial creatures that mark regions by leaving a scent around the perimeter of the area
(Anonymous 2012b, 1). When it comes to territory, females are very protective and will not share with another female. Males on the other hand are much more accepting and let other males' territory overlap with theirs (Sharp 2010, 8). Bobcats accomplish boundary marking by leaving their scent around the perimeters of a given area and within. Examples would be scratching trees, urinating, and scraping objects (Mallow 2004, 10).

In late winter, mating season begins for the bobcat. This season can prolong all the way to early summer, depending on climates in their region (Prange 2012, 1). A female bobcat can mate as early as one year after they are born. Males usually reach maturity after two years (Anonymous 2012a, 15). When the bobcat has found their mate, their courtship usually lasts only one or two days until they go their separate way. After approximately two months, the female bobcat gives birth to a litter of about three blind kittens. The size of the litter is dependent on the availability of food and the age of the mother.  The kittens will stay with the female for about five to eight months. In this short time, the mother feeds them and teaches them how to hunt. After the five to eight months is over, the young must depart and seek their own territory (Mallow 2004, 7, 8, 9). The bobcat can live up 14 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity (Wetzel 2009, 5).

Even though the bobcat is known as the most common big-cat species in North America, it is considered endangered in New Jersey, Ohio, and Indiana. The bobcat is also listed in Appendix II of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in which states that it is not in danger of becoming extinct, but should be protected (Anonymous 2012a, 19, 8). The serious threat to adult bobcats are human hunters who kill and skin them for fur. This is most common during reproductive season in the winter when bobcats group together to mate. The US recognized bobcats as fur suppliers amongst hunters and enforced preservation of the species formally (Roberts, Crimmins 2010, 1). Another problem on the rise as industrial areas branch out is the event of bobcats wandering onto roads and getting hit by cars (Wetzel 2009, 7, 8). The biggest threat to bobcat kittens, on the other hand, are other animals like foxes, wolves, owls and eagles (Sharp 2010, 7).

As the scientists recognized bobcat populations fluctuating and decreasing to low numbers, they started to study the bobcat population carefully in order to get a good idea of the numbers and be able to raise them. Methods for observing bobcats have been tested for productivity and effectiveness.  A scientist in Ohio, for example, studied the bobcats through infrared cameras and hair snares. The bobcat hair that they collected was genetically tested and the bobcat subspecies identified. Through this, they are able to get a good grasp of how many bobcats they are dealing with and be able to raise them (Prange 2008, 1, 2, 3). Cooperation of people and studies like these have greatly increased the populations of bobcats over the years
(Roberts, Crimmins 2010, 2).

In the United States, the bobcat "rests prominently in the anthology of national folklore," claims Kerry Temple. In some Native American folklore, the bobcat stood for hunting prowess; anyone who dreamed of it paired with the cougar would have good hunting in their tribes. A Shawnee Indian tall tale tells of how the bobcat got its spots. When the bobcat trapped a rabbit in a tree, the rabbit tricked the bobcat to build a fire, and the embers from the fire singed his skin to make the dark spots we see on bobcats today (Anonymous 2012a, 13).


In my personal opinion, I find the bobcat to be one of my favorite animals. As a child, I used to love how cute its appearance was. However, now that I know so much more on the bobcat through writing this research paper, I have grown to love it even more because I am fully educated on what a bobcat is and where it is from. I hope that through reading this paper, you begin to appreciate the bobcat more as well.


Conclusion

As you can see, the bobcat is an amazing adaptable creature and the most common big cat in North America. Although, if we don't continue with what we are currently doing, that fact may change. Through learning more about bobcats, we can have a better understanding of its life and understand how important it is to preserve this species. The horrible aspects it must face because of us is something that we can prevent and with the right amount of dedication, we can all save the bobcat and let it live on for our children and grandchildren to appreciate it as well.


Bibliography:
  1. Anonymous 2012A. "Bobcat." Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bobcat&diff=485186475&oldid=485186108
  2. Anonymous 2012B. "Basic Facts About Bobcats." Web. <http://www.defenders.org/bobcat/basic-facts>
  3. Ciszek 2002. "Lynx rufus." Web. <http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lynx_rufus.html>
  4. Ickes, Keenlance 2009. "The Effectiveness of Individual Identification of Bobcats using Automatically Triggered Cameras in Michigan." Web. <http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1022&context=sss&sei>
  5. Kapfer 2009. "Bobcat Biology, Ecology, Behavior and Conservation." Web. <http://www.bobcatproject.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=63&lang=en>
  6. Mallow 2004. "Bobcat Ecology." Web. <http://www.coryi.org/bobcatecology.htm#top>
  7. Peterson 2000. "The Biogeography of Bobcat (Lynx rufus)." Web.  <http://bss.sfsu.edu/holzman/courses/fall00projects/lynxrufus.html>
  8. Prange 2008. "Distribution and Abundance of Bobcats in Southeastern Ohio." Web. <http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/9/pdf/2008WildlifeReport.pdf>
  9. Prange 2012. "Bobcat." Web. <http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Home/species_a_to_z/SpeciesGuideIndex/bobcat/tabid/6567/Default.aspx>
  10. Roberts, Crimmins 2010. "Bobcat Population Status and Management in North America: Evidence of Large-Scale Population Increase." Web. <http://fwspubs.org/doi/pdf/10.3996/122009-JFWM-026>
  11. Sharp 2012. "Bobcat." Web. <http://www.desertusa.com/april96/du_bcat.html>
  12. Wetzel 2009. "Pennsylvanian Bobcat Population Control, Conservation, and Exploitation." Web. <http://bigcatconservationstudent.blogspot.com/2009/09/pennsylvanian-bobcat-population-control.html>
Appendix:
File Type File Name Attachment Description
Bobcat features
Bobcat Habitat
bobcat-range-map2