Basically, the plan has three major goals: maintain viable population levels and monitor trends in bobcat distribution and relative abundance; provide for sustainable use and enjoyment of bobcat by the public; and minimize negative bobcat-human interactions.
If you’d like to review the plan in more detail, it’s available on the website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals. The comment period on the draft plan runs through Feb. 16. Comments may be submitted in writing to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Bobcat Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (type “Bobcat Plan” in the subject line).
The agency worked closely with trappers and small game hunters to gain preliminary input regarding the management of bobcats. Input from these groups was used by DEC biologists and managers to develop the recommendations and management actions contained in the draft plan.
The plan includes proposals to greatly simplify hunting and trapping season dates by making them consistent throughout much of the state (extending the trapping season) as well as establishing new hunting and trapping opportunities in several wildlife management units in central and western New York.
The bobcat population in NYS is estimated at 5,000.
I saw my first bobcat in the wild many moons ago while deer hunting in Schoharie County. I watched several gray squirrels walking down an old stone wall; 10 minutes later they were followed by the bobcat, apparently looking for an easy meal. I’ve since seen a number of the cats on my southern and northern zone deer hunting jaunts but never bagged one; no particular reason why I haven’t, I just never wanted to. I enjoy watching them too much to shoot.
I was also fortunate enough to see a lynx back in 1990 or so, east of the Long Lake area. That was during DEC’s 1989-1992 program attempting to reintroduce them in the Adirondacks. My wife and I were driving through the area on Route 28N, on our way to the Northway and then to an outdoor writers’ conference in Plattsburgh when we spotted the critter sitting right in the middle of the road, apparently unconcerned by the proximity of our vehicle.
I pulled over and stopped about 50 feet from it, then got out and took at least a dozen slide photos of it (that was back in the days before digital photography). The radio-collar antenna was quite obvious on its neck. It stuck around for perhaps 10 minutes before slowly getting up and ambling off into the roadside brush.
I later gave a couple of the better slides to a friend of mine who was a public relations rep with DEC, but he passed away shortly after that and no one in the agency seems to know what happened to my slides. I still have several and if I can ever find them in my collection of 400 or more older slides I’ll share them with you.
DEC’s lynx restoration program was moderately - or should I say partially - successful. Some 80 lynx were live-trapped in northwestern Canada, then brought to a location in the Adirondacks where they were sequestered to became familiar with their new surroundings, but with minimal human contact, before being released back into the wild.
What surprised everyone was the distances the lynx covered from their release sites. They were all radio-collared and later showed up in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as other locations right here in New York state.
I recall hearing stories of one shot while raiding a chicken coop in Vermont. One of the released lynx was found eight months later a straight-line distance of 485 miles from its release site, two pounds heavier than it was when released. At least it ate well during its journey.
A decade later, extensive surveys were conducted in the High Peaks area attempting to document the presence of lynx but none were ever found. Still, rumors persist and it seems everyone has seen, or knows someone who has seen, a lynx in the North Country.
I may well have one of the few photos taken of a lynx after their release into the wild in the Adirondacks; now all I have to do is find those slides.