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On the Bobcat Trail

Researchers are studying wildcats in the Fort Worth area.

By TPWD Staff

A new study will help us better understand how bobcats live with humans in highly urbanized landscapes.

Researchers, wildlife managers and government officials from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Utah State University, Welder Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center are collaborating on a study on the ecology of bobcats in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“Bobcats have learned to thrive in urban areas and will always be a part of our urban wildlife community,” says Derek Broman, TPWD urban wildlife biologist in Dallas. “The goal of this research effort is to answer important questions about urban wildlife to help DFW-area cities and counties improve communication to their residents about how wildlife and people can coexist.”

Bobcat

Bobcats are the most common wildcat in North America. Not to be confused with the much larger mountain lion, bobcats typically weigh between 11 and 30 pounds and have short tails, long legs and large feet. Though reclusive and mostly active at night, bobcats frequently leave cover to hunt before sundown and can be seen in a variety of habitats throughout Texas. In recent years, bobcat sightings have increased in the Metroplex.

The study area includes approximately 49,000 acres bordered by Texas Highway 183 to the north, Texas Highway 161 to the east, Texas Highway 180 to the south and Interstate 820 to the west. The area includes parts of Fort Worth, Hurst and Arlington. Ten to 15 bobcats will be captured and fitted with Global Positioning System collars so researchers can follow their movements and activities for one year.

Before being released, each bobcat is photographed and tagged to provide a catalog of images for future identification. Blood, hair, scat and parasite samples are collected from the animals for analysis on genetics, diet and pathogens.

In addition to learning more about the life of bobcats in urban areas, researchers will also work with Texas Master Naturalist chapters to investigate the role that citizen science groups can play in complementing, supplementing or replacing field-based scientific investigations.

Master Naturalist members will be trained in the identification of bobcat signs. Location data on bobcat sightings from Master Naturalists and other public resources, such as iNaturalist.org and the DFW Wildlife Hotline, will be compared to the GPS collar data to identify correlations and determine whether citizen science programs can provide a long-term, cost-effective method for urban bobcat monitoring in the Metroplex.

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