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UNH Study: Bobcat Territory Has Moved With Human Development

bobcat.jpg
courtesy UNH Agricultural Experiment Station
/
A young bobcat

A new study from the University of New Hampshire says bobcats now roam in very different parts of the state than they did a generation ago – showing how human development can reshape a species' behavior.

The research is by UNH doctoral candidate Rory Carroll. It says New Hampshire’s bobcats now thrive in the northern part of the state, and move south to find new territory.

Genetic data collected by the state in the ‘50s and ‘60s shows the pattern used to be reversed.

Carroll says it may be due to decreasing snowfall up north, and increasing housing and road development down south.

"You know, we can come in and clear this small patch of forest and build a house, but our impacts go far beyond just that – the footprint of those things," he says.

But conservation measures in the past few decades have boosted the bobcats’ numbers overall – and Carroll says they're highly adaptable.

His research shows the cats now frequent places where human activity attracts more prey, such as squirrels, for them to eat.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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