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UNH Study: Bobcat Population Has Recovered Dramatically

Emily Hoyer
/
Flicker CC

A new study from the University of New Hampshire and Fish and Game finds that the state’s bobcat population has rebounded substantially.

Bobcats were hunted and trapped all the way through 1989, when the cats became so scarce that the state ended bobcat hunting. Back then there were estimated to be fewer than 200 bobcats in the state. Today, the new study estimates there could be as many as 800 to 1,200 of the elusive felines.

The study didn’t ask the question of what factors are leading to the recovery, and there is almost certainly more than one.

“Turkey population has recovered significantly, grey squirrels are now far more abundant than they were even ten or fifteen years ago, and bobcats have demonstrated an adaptability to human presence that wasn’t always anticipated,” says Mark Ellingwood, Director of Wildlife with New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The fact that the animal is no longer being hunted is helping as well. But as the population rises, it’s likely to renew the discussion of starting the hunting season again.

Ellingwood says the study “puts you in a position to decide where you’d like to stabilize the population, and if that’s the case it does present an opportunity for a surplus that could be allocated to hunters and trappers.”

The cats used to be largely found in Southwestern corner of the state, but researchers say they now stretch from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border.

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Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.
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