September 1, 2014

Medina
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Bobcats make return to Medina County

Dan Bertsch, chief naturalist at the Medina County Park District, points out the distinctive features of bobcats during a lecture Sunday at the Hidden Hollow Camp lodge in Lodi. The lecture, followed by a hike, was part of the district’s Natural Discoveries Hiking Series. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

Dan Bertsch, chief naturalist at the Medina County Park District, points out the distinctive features of bobcats during a lecture Sunday at the Hidden Hollow Camp lodge in Lodi. The lecture, followed by a hike, was part of the district’s Natural Discoveries Hiking Series. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

Some long-lost residents have returned to Medina County, though it’s unlikely they’ll be moving into the house next door. Bobcats don’t live in houses.

According to Medina County Park District chief naturalist Dan Bertsch, the wild cats aren’t very neighborly, anyway.

“They like remote areas; they don’t care to live near people,” he said. “They’re very shy.”

Bertsch talked about the comeback bobcats are making in Ohio at a presentation Sunday at the Medina County Park District’s Hidden Hollow Camp lodge, on Richman Road in Lodi.

Once believed extinct in Ohio, bobcats have returned to the Buckeye State and even to Medina County, Bertsch told the audience of about 75 who attended the park district’s “Natural Discoveries Hiking Series.”

Bertsch said the returning bobcats were first sighted back in Ohio in the 1970s. In 2012, there were about 170 verified sightings.

The bobcats are doing so well that state wildlife officials are asking that they be removed from Ohio’s threatened species list.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has put the proposal before the Ohio Wildlife Council — an eight-member board that approves all proposed rules and regulations of the Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife division.

Officials said the bobcat was one of 71 species on Ohio’s first endangered species list in 1974, but the population began to rebound later that decade and the bobcat was moved to the “threatened” list in 2012, when the number of verified sightings began to increase.

The state says Ohio’s bobcats are still a protected species and cannot be hunted.

While they are found in all 88 counties with a heavy presence in largely rural Noble County, the first verified bobcat sighting in Medina County came in September, when one was found killing turkeys on a farm in Seville, Bertsch said.
It was trapped and turned over to wildlife authorities.

The cats aren’t easily spotted, although their presence can be determined by their distinctive paw marks, the appearance of their “scat” — wildlife biologist-speak for “poop,” and finding the remains of their prey, which includes rabbits and rodents.

Bobcats frequent brushy areas, densely wooded areas and wooded streams and rivers.

Bobcats can be difficult to distinguish from ordinary feral cats, Bertsch said, because they vary so widely in size. A male bobcat can weigh anywhere from 12 to 68 pounds. On average, they weigh from 25 to 28 pounds, considerably bigger than most house cats.

Bobcats also have a distinctive “ruff” — a line of tufted fur — around the neck and face. They are usually spotted rather than striped and, of course, have the namesake short white tail, commonly called a “bob” tail.

But between their dislike of people and their nocturnal hunting habits, bobcats aren’t likely to be seen often, although they are more likely to be spotted between December and April, their mating season.

And while there is no record of a bobcat attacking a human in Ohio, Bertsch said they can be dangerous if encountered, especially females defending their young. More often than not, though, he said the cats will likely run from a human.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.