The bobcat is making a comeback in Ohio and has been sighted more often in Highland County each year since 2008, when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) began confirming reported sightings.
According to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, there were 499 verified sightings of bobcats in Ohio in 2020.
“Bobcat sighting reports include observations reported to the Division of Wildlife by members of the public and observations made by Division of Wildlife personnel while in the field,” said ODNR Wildlife Communications Specialist Kathy Garza-Behr. “Sightings are screened to eliminate duplicates or sightings that are confirmed to be a species other than bobcat.”
Garza-Behr said the species occurs mainly in the forests and old fields of eastern and Southern Ohio. She said the more forested areas of southeastern Highland County are most preferable to the bobcats because these areas supply them with rocky areas to den. Sightings outside of these areas, however, are possible.
Garza-Behr said bobcats choose Highland County’s habitat because it is forested, with fields and brush, and it has rock areas in the southeast of the county. She said they are also attracted to the county’s lower population of people.
Bobcats have always been in Ohio, but they were hunted to near extinction by the mid-1800s. Garza-Behr said bobcat sightings are expected to continue to increase in future years as the population increases in distribution.
Fortunately, bobcats are not considered to be dangerous to humans. While attacks on pets are not common, bobcats are carnivores and will consume a wide variety of insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals. If a pet fits that size range and is fairly easy to catch, they could be considered prey. Pets and livestock should be monitored while outside or properly housed or caged for their safety.
Bobcats generally lie in wait for their prey, pouncing when an animal comes near. Bobcats rarely pursue prey for more than 60 feet.
Bobcats are very elusive and active at dusk or dawn. Those are the best times to catch a glimpse of a bobcat. Their average weight is 11 to 30 pounds, and their typical diet consists of rabbits, squirrels, rodents and birds.
Bobcat sightings should be reported to https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/speciessighting/. Verified sightings are entered in the ODNR wildlife database which helps the agency determine populations and the needs of the animals.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.