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Bobcat Research

A Health and Habitat Use Survey of Bobcats Within a Partially Restored Wildlife Corridor: a Model for Endangered Texas Felids
In June of 2003, Dr. Jenifer Chatfield, former Senior Veterinarian at the Gladys Porter Zoo, and Mitchell Sternberg, USFWS biologist began an investigation to determine the health and habits of bobcats along the Otha Holland Corridor in South Texas. This corridor serves as a land bridge between two large areas of habitat, lies in close proximity to several urban areas and is ~25 miles long. The investigation included a health survey of the cats as well as radiotelemetry studies of the cats' habits.

Although the corridor is a species rich area, no data has been published to support its value to wildlife conservation in the area, or to document to what extent it is utilized. The fact that approximately 50% of the brush that makes up the corridor is relatively new growth has implications for future restoration efforts. Area residents claim to have seen both ocelot and jaguarundi utilizing the corridor, along with white-tailed deer. USFWS personnel, through observation and use of Trailmaster infra-red cameras have documented extensive use of the corridor by bobcats, javelina and coyotes, but have yet to document the presence or utilization of the corridor by either of these endangered felid species.

Not only will a health and utilization assessment of the corridor provide data about the conservation value of the corridor, but, based on information obtained, it may serve as a model for conservation of endangered Texas felids that utilize wildlife corridors as well. And although bobcats are considered an "edge species" that will utilize less-than-optimal habitat, other felid species have been known to utilize corridors. The cats are currently being radio-tracked, and radio-collared individuals have been tracked crossing major highways.

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