By KATIE SEMINARA
The animal is endangered in Ohio but increasing its numbers in Northeast Ohio.
Steve Rostar’s motion-activated cameras snap deer footage regularly.
But on Aug. 2, one camera captured a more elusive wildlife subject — a bobcat.
“I was surprised,” said Rostar of seeing the pictures of the wildcat.
Rostar, of East Lake, has been an avid hunter since childhood and set up motion cameras on a farm in Ashtabula County to track animals.
The cameras give an idea of wildlife movement in the area, said Rostar, who collects data by film because he is unable to visit the farm frequently.
More hunters and wildlife enthusiasts may have the same opportunity as Rostar within the next few years due to the increase in bobcat population.
Though the numbers may seem insignificant, a total of 16 verified reports of bobcats in Northeast Ohio have been recorded since 1970, said Dan Kramer, wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Since 2005 there have been 57 verified reports across the state.
David Brown, wildlife officer for ODNR Division of Wildlife, has been assigned to Mahoning County since 1983. He said the last sighting was on a farm in Ellsworth Township.
A farmer found his goat killed by a bobcat, said Brown. The farmer and his son trapped the cat and turned it over to the appropriate wildlife officials.
Bobcats remain on the endangered species list in Ohio, but up until recently the only method of recording numbers was by sightings from hunters, fox and coyotes trappers, and occasionally roadkills, all difficult to determine confirmed or unconfirmed.
ODNR has created a statewide bobcat management plan and started conducting surveys to collect more accurate data, said Kramer.
“The majority of sightings come from high wooded areas,” said Kramer. “But bobcats are more adaptable to a wider variety of habitats,”
Bobcats are starting to move into more open regions, he said.
Even if the wildcats do move into open habitats, it would be rare for a human to come in contact with one. Most bobcat activity is at dawn and dusk, said Kramer.
Bobcat activity doesn’t present possible threats to adults or children.
“Small pets might be a different story,” said Kramer.
And so might coyotes. These animals weigh up to 50 pounds, can be 53 inches long and pose more of a threat to humans, he said. There have been incidents where coyotes have come in contact with and stalked humans.
There aren’t concrete numbers of coyotes in Ohio, but Kramer said they are quite common in every county.
“Coyotes are pack animals. They are braver, bolder and hunt together,” said Rostar.
“You have a greater chance of seeing a bear or coyote,” Brown said of the possibility of a bobcat encounter.
Bobcats are not so bold. Jeff Janosik, area manager of Highlandtown Wildlife Area in Columbiana County, said the cats avoid people.
Janosik and a fellow employee of the Division of Wildlife spotted a bobcat at the beginning of the summer.
“It was really neat to see one,” said Janosik, who was at Jockey Hallow Wildlife Area in Harrison County when he encountered the cat.
Jockey Hollow is located about 70 miles south of Youngstown.