WLWT Digital Staff News 5
Bobcats are native to Ohio, and one of seven wild cat species in North America, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Prior to settlement, bobcats were common throughout the state. But as swamps and lowlands were drained and forests cleared to make way for settlements and cropland, the bobcat population declined.
By 1850, bobcats were all but gone, considered extirpated from the state.
From 1850 through the 1960s, there were only occasional reports of bobcats, mainly in eastern Ohio.
But the mid-1900s saw a rebirth of the species in Ohio, and recent sightings maps from the ODNR show that the wild cats are being spotted more widespread across the state in record numbers.
Overall, verified sightings have increased exponentially over the past decade. In July 2014, the bobcat was removed from the list of Ohio endangered and threatened species.
In 2017 — the last year a summary report of verified sightings was published — Ohio had 499 verified reports, according to an ODNR report, which included 343 trail camera pictures or videos, 82 road-killed, 12 incidentally trapped bobcats, 34 photographs, and 28 sightings by Ohio Department of Natural Resources staff or other qualified personnel.
Bobcat reports were documented in 46 counties during 2017 and in 71 counties since 1970.
Even though the bobcat has been sighted more often every year, sightings are considered relatively rare. Generally, the bobcat is a solitary animal, territorial and elusive by nature.
But in the winter and spring months, sightings could be more likely. Breeding mostly occurs December through May, according to ODNR officials, but can occur anytime throughout the year.