How many bobcat does PA have today?
Let’s have some fun with numbers…
What we know is this:
Bobcat Mngt. Plan 2013-2022
PGC Wildlife Note 2003
Originally Posted by Dr. Mathew Lovallo, PGC Biologist
The primary cause of bobcat mortality, in both harvested and unharvested populations, is human-related. Harvest is the most prevalent cause of mortality in bobcats, where hunting and trapping seasons occur.
His model [Fuller], based on 7 years of intensive research on bobcats in southeastern Idaho, indicated little impact on population size until harvest exceeded 20% of the population. Beyond that even small increases in harvest led to large population declines.
Originally Posted by Chuck Fergus
Beginning in the 1980s, the Game Commission began various field research projects to better understand the factors affecting bobcat density and distribution throughout the state. Based on these studies and related surveys, in 2000 Pennsylvania’s bobcat population was estimated to be approximately 3,500, and a hunting and trapping season, very limited, was once again offered.
Bobcat harvest across the last several years has been about 1,000 annually (which interestingly equals the bear harvest of the 1980’s, and we’ve seen how that population grew). If current harvest represents 20% of the population, then today there are at least 5,000 bobcat in all of PA.
But wait, the bobcat population is supposedly still growing, right? Therefore, it’s more than likely that this harvest number represents a more conservative number – say maybe 13% harvested. If that’s the case, then bobcats number over 8,000 (or 0.30 per forested sq mi), right?
Since this is a furbearer, we also have another indicator to go by – bobcat capture rate. Capture numbers parallel harvest numbers fairly closely, and allow us to gage population size before harvest began back in year 2000. Capture numbers go all the way back to year 1991. I may be wrong, but it seems to me it’s a safe bet that population size parallels capture numbers. If that’s the case, then population trend in PA should look something like this:
What does it all mean?
Well, if the above is true, then bobcats number 3x what they did at the start of the new deer program, and 4x what they did in the 1990’s! And just like the other 2 big predators whose populations have grown since the start of the new deer program - bear (2x) and coyotes (4x) - bobcat numbers are skyrocketing as well!
How does any honest person suggest that this surge in all of the big 3 predator populations is having NO effect on game abundance?