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New Jersey Eagle Project Volunteers: Priceless

Friday, January 30th, 2015

January 2015 is the Month of the Eagle! CWF is kicking off the new year by celebrating all things eagle. Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on these amazing raptors from our own eagle biologist Larissa Smith. Larissa, a wildlife biologist who has been working for Conserve Wildlife Foundation since 2000, coordinates the New Jersey Bald Eagle Monitoring Project.

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager


During the Month of the Eagle, we have thanked the dedicated Bald Eagle Project volunteers, the backbone of the New Jersey Eagle Project.

 

Our volunteers get an incredible, intimate look into the lives of eagle pairs. Read their stories:

 

My best eagle memory comes from May 15, 1996 — my second visit to the first eagle nest I ever monitored. Eric Stiles had called a week earlier to tell me a nest had been found in Smithville and asked if I’d like to become involved in the project. I said “Of course!” and we arranged to get together the next day.

Back then there were only about a dozen nest sites known in the state and he wanted me to keep secret the locale and everything I observed. We drove his truck into the woods out of sight, then walked in through a white cedar forest, whispering as we got close. “It’s two young birds,” he told me, “in a small nest, probably a red-tailed nest they pirated.” Both had flecks of black and brown in the feathering on their heads, especially the male, whose head and tail showed lots of brown. “They may be too young to breed this year,” he explained. “It may be just a housekeeping year.”

“Brownie” flew off soon after we arrived; his mate sat in her pine tree for the full half-hour we watched, looking over-sized for her nest. “We need to keep disturbance to a minimum,” Eric told me as we left. “You shouldn’t come back here more than once a week.”One week later, when I returned to the hiding place in the cedars, I could see the female in the nest with my bins. I unfurled my tripod as quietly as I could, focused my scope — and my heart leaped: a fuzzy blue-gray chick with big black eyes was looking back at me! Soon after, his mother stood up and called into the sky. “Brownie” was coming back.

He landed in the nest, and after more screaming, let his mate take the fish he’d carried in. She carefully pulled it apart, feeding tiny bits to the chick and the larger pieces to herself. I had never seen eagles in action at a nest and was thoroughly enchanted – but there was another surprise to come. As the female turned in the nest ripping at the fish, something flashed. I focused the scope again and saw first a silver band gleaming on one leg and next a green band on the other. She was a New Jersey bird — hatched herself probably in 1991 or 1992, from one of the handful of nests in the state in those years. That was a sweet thrill!

That was the start of a long relationship between “Brownie,” “Greenie,” and me – and the eagles that have come along in the two decades since (the nest has moved two times over those years). I am very grateful to Eric Stiles for involving me originally and to Larissa Smith, Kathy Clark, Larry Niles and all the many hard-working, dedicated folks who have allowed me to participate in this wonderful project. Thanks largely to them, our state now has an order of magnitude more nests than we had in 1996: 150+! Wow!
– Jack Connor

 

Karin Buynie monitors the Crosswicks Creek nest @ Kevin Buynie

Karin Buynie monitors the Crosswicks Creek nest @ Kevin Buynie

We have a lot of good memories through the years of eagle volunteering. None that stand out more than just being able to talk to the many people that stumble upon you trying to figure out what all the gear is for and then seeing the surprise on their face when you tell them you are watching a bald eagle pair raise their young. Being able to pass on all the knowledge you learned from our many conversations with the biologist is very fulfilling. It is nice to see people walk away knowing how far our nation’s symbol has rebounded in our state. We have been able to help 16 eaglets fledge in our seven years of volunteering.
– Kevin & Karin Buynie

 

Last year was my first year monitoring an eagle’s nest. I guess the best experience was watching the pair behavior, moving sticks around on the nest and then seeing them mating, which was interrupted when an immature eagle came flying by. It was pretty cool.
– Karyn Cichocki

 

Lake Barnegat@Paul Lenzo

Lake Barnegat@Paul Lenzo

My best local sighting was in March of 2009 on Lake Barnegat in Forked River. From the road, as I was driving home, I saw an eagle attacking a cormorant and pulled over. After numerous attempts in the air and on the water, the eagle finally killed the cormorant. After watching for about 15 minute., I drove home to get my cameras (about a ten minute round trip), hoping the eagle would still be there when I returned. To my surprise when I returned a pair of birds was feeding on and fighting over the carcass.                            
– Paul Lenzo

 

My most awesome experience was participating in the banding of a young male bald eagle chick from the Supawna Meadows nest. How awesome to actually hold the chick while blood was drawn and measurements taken. I will never forget that great experience.
– Cheryl Leonard

Donna Poolake monitoring a nest

Donna Poolake monitoring nest

“Busy day at Turkey Point: Upon arrival, one adult was in the nest housekeeping and three juveniles were in a snag about 100 feet to the right of the nest. We think these are most likely last year’s fledglings since the adult was not concerned they were so close. There was an adult that flew over the nest towards open water and out of sight. There were another four juveniles in the trees to the right of the meadow across the creek. Across the street from the crabbing business were six more juveniles perched in the trees.

Another adult flew to the nest and perched just above it. Then it jumped to a different branch in the nest tree. That’s when the adult that was housekeeping in the nest jumped up and bit the tail of the adult that just approached and was perched above the nest. Fluffy feathers floated down from that adult while he flew away towards where the three juveniles were perched and landed in a snag. The housekeeping adult that had just gone after tail feathers flew to the same snag as the adult she just “bit” and perched about 10 feet above him.

All of this caused the three juveniles that were perched there to fly off. So, she was telling him to get home and help while the three youngsters said ‘We’re out of here!'”   

This is from several years ago at Turkey Point. We were observing a nest with three chicks in it that were about six weeks old. An adult was perched on a snag not far from the nest. We suddenly got a good view of a chick and noticed that he was much larger than the others. Then we realized this was not a chick but most likely a fledgling from last year. Mom was not too upset but once the fledgling started to eat the fish that was in the nest she flew over, landed in the nest, and chased the juvenile away. It seems she didn’t mind him visiting but he better go get his own meals. The chicks didn’t seem to mind the visitor but became much more active after he left!
– Donna & Heiki Poolake

 

I was astonished to see a pair of eagles take over an osprey nest in the rear of my home several years ago. This is what started me in the eagle program. The eagles did not stay long as the red-tailed hawks and osprey were too annoying. I then started to observe nest in Brick, New Jersey and let Kim Korth know whatever I saw. One day Kim called me and asked if I would like to go and be part of a eagle banding project. I was overjoyed to go. The banding took place in Brick, New Jersey on a private piece of property. I held an eagle for about 15 minutes and it was one of the best things I have ever experenced in my entire life. To actually hold an eagle. WOW!                            
– Richard Gauer

 

Is it the thrill of the first sighting of that fuzzy little head? Is it the beauty of that majestic bird soaring above with a blue background? Maybe it’s the anticipation of a first sighting of another species? Or the beauty of the area where you are doing your observation, the breath-taking sight of thousands of Snow Geese that perhaps land near-by? For us, it is all of these things and the knowledge we have gained observing these magnificent birds (and all the information Larissa has imparted to us, bless her). We feel it has been an honor to have taken part in the program and we hope to be able to continue for years to come.
– Clare Luisi & Anne Stiles

 

Two adult eagles were perched over the waterway near their nest. But this time instead of both being on a relatively high perch, one was perched on a branch just a few feet from the water. The water level was low and the area beneath the eagle was mucky. The eagle on the low branch was studying the mucky water below. Then it floated off the branch by just opening its wings and dropping down like a parachute into the muck. It flew up from the muck with a turtle in its beak! Then as it lifted hire into the air, it banked around past us and we watched it transfer the turtle from its beak to its talon in mid flight. We are so used to seeing eagles drop their talons into the water to pick up fish, that this eagle’s retrieval of a turtle with its beak was really surprising and wonderful to watch.
— Bonnie Hart & Ted Henning

 

Learn more about Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Bald Eagle Project.

 

 

 

Green Bands: Telling the Story of New Jersey Eagles

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

January 2015 is the Month of the Eagle! CWF is kicking off the new year by celebrating all things eagle. Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on these amazing raptors from our own eagle biologist Larissa Smith. Larissa, a wildlife biologist who has been working for Conserve Wildlife Foundation since 2000, coordinates the New Jersey Bald Eagle Monitoring Project.

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager


During the Month of the Eagle, we have discussed at length the use of telemetry to see the daily movements of eagles in the state. Another method that biologists use to obtain information on New Jersey eagles is from Re-Sighting New Jersey Eagles. Biologists look for the bands on the re-sighted eagles to find out the age of the bird and the nest that it came from.

 

In June 2014, we learned about a banded New Jersey Eagle Nesting in PA. Unfortunately, the pair lost its chicks during a wind storm last April. I recently contacted Linda Oughton, the nest observer, and she reports that the pair has been busy bringing sticks to the nest in preparation for the upcoming nesting season. We wish “Jersey Girl” and her mate a successful year!

 

NJ  eagle bands (green) and federal eagle bands (silver)

NJ eagle bands (green) and federal eagle bands (silver)

Biologists also obtain information about New Jersey eagles from bands when eagles are recovered injured or dead. This isn’t as “feel good” as the re-sighting of a living, healthy bird, but the band still contains valuable information about the eagle’s age and the nest from which it originated.

 

If you find a bird with a New Jersey band, please report it to the National Bird Banding Lab.

 

The Banding Lab notifies New Jersey biologists when a band has been reported. The majority of recovered New Jersey birds are found in our state, but Jersey banded eagles have also been recovered in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Maine.  Each band that is found tells a story about the eagles life.

 

  • On April, 26, 2013, a female eagle was found dead at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. She was banded with a red band which revealed that she was one of the eagles from the Dividing Creek Hack site* in 1988, making her 25 years old when she died. The nest observer at the Aberdeen believes that this was the female she observed nesting at Aberdeen for 20 years. At the time of the eagle’s death, there were three chicks in the nest and the male was able to successfully raise them by himself. She is the oldest New Jersey banded eagle that has been recovered.
  • In the fall of 2013, the remains of an eagle with a red band were found in the Nantuxent Wildlife Management Area. The bird was 24 years old. The eagle had been brought along with another eaglet from Canada after their nest was lost. They were placed in the Tuckahoe Hack site* and fledged in 1989.

    *The New Jersey eagle hacking project was started in 1983 as a part of the eagle restoration efforts.  Young eagles approximately six weeks of age were brought from Canada where the eagle population was stable. Hacking towers were built at two sites, Dividing Creek, Cumberland County and Tuckahoe, Cape May County. The chicks were placed in the towers and provided food until the time of fledging. The idea was that the birds, when mature, would return to their place of fledging to nest. These hacked eagles were banded with a red band. Sixty young birds were fledged from these hacking towers over an eight year period contributing to the increase in the New Jersey eagle population.

  •  A thirteen year old eagle was recovered in November of 2011 in Delaware, the cause of death was determined to be lead poisoning. The bird had been banded on May 14, 1999 in Cumberland County. What makes this eagle so special is that in 2003 the same bird was found in Cape May County with a leg hold trap attached to its foot. The foot was amputated and the bird was released. It is amazing to know that this eagle survived for eight years with just one foot!
  • The Duke Farms Eagle Cam is has gained a large online following, so it was sad news when one of the juveniles from the 2014 nest was found dead in Maine this past August.  From talking with the finders of the bird we were able to piece together the story of D-98.

These are just a few examples of the recoveries of dead eagles, but there are also many injured eagles that are cared for by dedicated wildlife rehabilitators and released back into the wild.

C/45 in recovery at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, DE

C/45 in recovery at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, DE

A New Jersey banded eagle was rescued from the Chesapeake Bay by a fisherman from Cecil County, Maryland on March 17th, 2013. The male had been banded at the Union Lake nest, Cumberland County on May 15, 2007 making him six years old.

 

The eagle was taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Delaware where he recovered from his injuries, believe to be from a territorial dispute with another eagle, and was released on May 6, 2013.

 

All eagle recoveries are listed in each years annual eagle report.

 

Learn more:

 

 

Fight for the Flight: Monarch Butterfly Status Under Review

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By: Julianne Maksym, Intern 


A monarch butterfly emerges from a chrysalis in the wild. (Courtesy: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

As the summer leaves turn brown and children head back to school, flutters of black and orange wings flitter through the skies over the beaches in Cape May. As part of its yearly migration from Canada to Mexico, the monarch butterfly passes through New Jersey in search of a warmer climate for the blistery cold winter months. Multiple generations make the trek, leaving in the fall and returning in late spring.

 

During the summer months, the monarch can be found throughout the United States where milkweed, the species’ host plant, is plentiful. Milkweed provides nutrients to hungry caterpillars as well as space for mature females to lay their eggs. Although an adult monarch may lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime, it has now been discovered fewer and fewer butterflies make the migration each year.

 

Losses of habitat and milkweed plants, the insect’s sole food source, are having tremendously devastating effects. According to a petition from butterfly advocates, the North American population has declined by more than 90 percent based on comparisons of the most recent population size estimates to the 20-year average. Numbers of monarch butterflies east of the Rockies dropped to the lowest record ever, signifying a decline of more than 90% since 1995. Monarch numbers west of the Rockies showed a similar decline of more than 50% since 1997. These figures suggest a significant predicament as the North American population represents the vast majority of all monarchs in the world. Without it, the entire species is vulnerable to extinction.

 

On December 29th, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has reason to believe a listing may be necessary due to considerable evidence from a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Lincoln Brower. The petition stated that habitat destruction and loss of milkweed due to pesticide use are two of the most contributing factors to the declining monarch population. Other factors include disease and predation, overutilization for commercial purposes, and lack of existing conservation procedures.

 

To begin the status review, the Service is requesting scientific and commercial data and other information through a 60-day public information period. The Service is specifically seeking information regarding the following:

  • Subspecies’ biology, range and population trends, habitat requirements, genetics and taxonomy
  • Historical and current range, including distribution patterns
  • Historical and current population levels and current and projected trends;
  • Life history or behavior of the monarch butterfly that has not yet been documented
  • Thermo-tolerance range and microclimate requirements of the monarch butterfly
  • Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its habitat or both
  • Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination under section 4(a) of the ESA

 

Starting on December 31, information can be submitted via www.regulations.gov by entering docket number FWS-R3-ES-2014-0056 in the search box and clicking on “Comment Now!” The information collection period will be open until March 2, 2015.

 

Until a decision has been made, take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is the monarch butterfly. Consider planting a few milkweed plants in your garden or speaking out against the overuse of pesticides. As much as the monarch butterfly’s migration is a group effort, the conservation of these beautiful creatures is even more so.

 

Julianne Maksym is a graduate wildlife intern for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

New Jersey Wildlife Telemetry Study Tracks Bald Eagles on Journeys Across Hemisphere

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

January 2015 is the Month of the Eagle! CWF is kicking off the new year by celebrating all things eagle. Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on these amazing raptors from our own eagle biologist Larissa Smith. Larissa, a wildlife biologist who has been working for Conserve Wildlife Foundation since 2000, coordinates the New Jersey Bald Eagle Monitoring Project.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey releases results of 2014 State Bald Eagle Report

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

Photo Credit: Chris Davidson

Photo Credit: Chris Davidson

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) today released the 2014 Bald Eagle Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, active nests and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey with data collected by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWFNJ biologists and dedicated volunteers.

 

Two young bald eagles were fitted with GPS tracking devices (wearable backpacks) in Summer 2014 to conduct a telemetry study to better understand raptor behavior. View the complete Bald Eagle Project Report online. ENSP biologists chose one eagle from Atlantic County (a male nicknamed “Nacote”) and one from Cumberland County (a female nicknamed “Millville”) to be tagged in this telemetry study.

 

Nacote was in Canada until mid-October when he started heading south. He visited Six Flags Great Adventure in December and for the past two weeks, he has been residing in northeast Atlantic County, especially Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Millville ventured out to Delaware Bay marshes in late July and back in early August. In mid-September, she crossed the Delaware River into Delaware and then spent most of September along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland before crossing over to Virginia.

 

“Tracking these young eagles is giving us insight into where the birds go once they fledge and the type of habitat they are using,” explained Conserve Wildlife Foundation Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager Larissa Smith. “Unfortunately, we recently learned that the female was found dead in Delaware. The first year of life is tough for young eagles as they learn to survive on their own.”

 

2014 Eagle Report

The federal government removed the bald eagle from its list of Endangered Species in August of 2007, but the bald eagle’s official New Jersey status remains state-endangered for the breeding season and state-threatened for the non-breeding season. The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) bald eagle recovery efforts, implemented in the early 1980’s, have resulted in a steady recovery of New Jersey’s bald eagle population. ENSP biologists, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey staff, and volunteer observers continue to locate and monitor bald eagle nests and territories each year to analyze the state of the population.

 

2014 Report Highlights

  • The population of wintering bald eagles has grown along with the nesting population, especially in the last ten years. This growth reflects increasing populations in NJ and the northeast, as each state’s recovery efforts continue to pay off for eagles.
  • This season, 25 new eagle pairs were found.
  • The statewide population increased to 156 pairs (including nesting and territorial) in 2014, up from 148 in 2013.
  • A total of 156 nest sites were monitored during the nesting season, of which 146 were documented to be active (with eggs), up from 119 last year.
  • One hundred fifteen nests (79%) of the 145 known-outcome nests produced 201 young, for a productivity rate of 1.39 young per active and known-outcome nest.
  • The Delaware Bay region remained the state’s eagle stronghold, with 43% of all nests located in Cumberland and Salem counties.
  • 2014 marked the first year of successful eagle nesting in the Palisades Interstate Park in perhaps 100 years.

 

The telemetry study, in tandem with the most recent annual eagle report, has been illuminating.

 

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to follow these juvenile bald eagles on their forays far from New Jersey,” said David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director. “With the eagles choosing to fly in completely different directions, it’s a reminder on how much we still have to learn about these fascinating creatures. Yet what is not in doubt is the bald eagle’s continuing recovery from the brink of extinction – thanks largely to the dedicated scientists leading the way.”

 

For maps of the movements of Nacote, updated regularly, visit our Eagle Project page.

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

 

 

“New Jersey’s Little Lion”: Biologists Shed Light on Elusive Bobcat

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

By: David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Executive Director

MountainLionBlog

With our eastern landscape largely devoid of top carnivores, bobcats are a throwback to the wild predators that once ruled our forests. No one understands that better than our partners from the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP). The bobcat was listed as a state endangered species in June 1991, and habitat fragmentation in our densely populated state has made their recovery especially challenging. Biologists Mick Valent and Gretchen Fowles study bobcats in the wild, and here they generously share their insights on this remarkable creature.

 

What do you find most compelling about working with bobcats?

Mick Valent: I have worked with many species during my tenure with the Division of Fish and Wildlife including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, Allegheny woodrats and timber rattlesnakes, to name a few. However, to me, none epitomize the “wild” in wildlife the way that bobcats do. To me, they are the ultimate New Jersey predator – highly adaptive, perfectly camouflaged, keen senses of sight and sound, blazing speed and quickness, razor sharp claws and teeth, and the ability to stalk their prey quietly or overrun them! Fierce and unyielding, when captured, they are truly New Jersey’s little lion!

 

Can you describe the feeling of your first bobcat sighting?

MV: As chance would have it, I went many years without seeing a bobcat in the “wild” in New Jersey – even as the population was apparently increasing. Despite spending many days afield tracking and trapping bobcats, it wasn’t until 2011 that I saw my first bobcat (aside from the ones that I trapped and collared). I was in Allamuchy Township in January of 2011 searching for a suitable area to trap, when an adult bobcat bolted from a pile of tree stumps and logs right in front of me. A perfect spot for a bobcat to seek shelter during the daylight hours. And by the way, we were never able to catch that animal!

 

Are bobcats proving adaptable to New Jersey’s changing landscape and human development?

Gretchen Fowles: Bobcats seem to be increasing in northern New Jersey. In the past couple of years, there have been an increasing number of bobcat sightings south of Route 80 (though still north of Route 78), suggesting that they have been somewhat successful at passing through that tough Route 80 barrier. Our data suggest that bobcats are finding a way to move between core habitat areas in northern New Jersey. We have several males and females that have moved over 30 miles from year to year.

However, major roadways continue to be a problem. We have GPS collar data from a couple of bobcats that indicate that major roadways, such as Routes 80 and 206, seem to be perceived as complete barriers to these animals. The collars recorded movement patterns with location points going right up to and paralleling the road, but not crossing over it. We have been monitoring about 12 crossing structures under major roadways in northern New Jersey that bisect suitable bobcat habitat.

 

What are the worst threats to bobcats in New Jersey?

GF: Habitat fragmentation and roads are the worst threats, and they’re getting worse. A young bobcat was hit by a car and was found on the shoulder of westbound Route 78 last year. So, they are trying to cross that barrier, but are having difficulty doing so. Another bobcat was hit by a car in Parsippany when attempting to cross Route 46. The final quarter of each year, between October and January, tends to be the peak period for bobcat road mortality, and it is important that people report these incidents to the ENSP. We are working on a project called Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) that is aimed at reconnecting the landscape for terrestrial wildlife, like bobcats.

We have formed a multi-partner, multi-disciplinary working group to inform the development of this statewide connectivity plan that will help target local, regional, and state planning efforts and ultimately reconnect the landscape in New Jersey. We are mapping the core habitat areas in the state as well as the corridors that can serve to connect those areas together, and are working on a Guidance Document that will recommend ways in which those cores and corridors can be made more permeable through targeted land protection, habitat management and restoration, and road mitigation efforts. We are also developing a bobcat recovery plan.

The constant threat from habitat loss and fragmentation, changes in land use, the existence of barriers to free movement between suitable habitats, and automobile collisions on our busy and abundant roadways will likely limit the growth of New Jersey’s bobcat population. It is likely that bobcats will remain only locally abundant in areas of suitable habitat, primarily in the areas north of Interstate Route 80. Whether or not a few animals are successful at crossing our major roadways, they will always pose an impediment to free movement between suitable habitats and will continue to be a source of mortality to the population.

 

What are some of the ways you study bobcats in New Jersey? Are you still using dogs in this work?

GF: We continue to use Bear, a professionally trained working dog for wildlife who is used to locate and alert biologists to bobcat scats, to help us better understand the New Jersey bobcat population. Bear is now about 12 years old, but his nose still works!
DNA can be extracted from sloughed intestinal cells contained in bobcat scat and can provide a wealth of information. DNA analyses of scat, as well as the locations where the scats are found, allow biologists to identify individual animals, their sex and movements. The DNA data from scats and tissue samples that we collect from bobcats killed on the road, accidentally snared, or trapped by ENSP in order to fit with GPS collars, are being fed into analyses that will help use estimate survival rate, population size and structure, and sex ratio.

We also collared three bobcats this past winter near major roadways, and set the collars to collect locations every hour. We are excited to retrieve the data from these collars in a few months to evaluate how those major roadways may be influencing the cats’ activity patterns and determine if, when and where they are crossing them. This information will help validate our CHANJ mapping and inform our Guidance Document.

 

Is the big picture for bobcat populations any different nationally?

GF: A recent national status assessment conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service found that bobcats were generally increasing throughout their North American range. This appears to be holding true in New Jersey in areas where we have suitable habitat that is accessible to the population.

 

Tell me about your most memorable encounter.

MV: My volunteer and I had responded to a call from a trapper who accidentally caught a bobcat in his cable restraint during one of those January cold spells. The bobcat was caught on the bank of a medium-sized stream next to a footbridge. As we approached, the animal was pacing along the stream bank and jumping up on the foot bridge. As my volunteer distracted the animal, I came in from behind and jabbed the cat in the rump with a jab pole loaded with a tranquilizing drug. We immediately backed off to let the drug take effect so we could remove the cable from the animal’s neck. As the drug began to take effect the animal lost the ability to stand and slipped into the water – struggling to stay above the surface.

Without hesitation, we ran back to the stream. My volunteer arrived first, jumped into the frigid, chest-deep water, and grabbed the cat and pulled him to safety. Although the cat was not fully sedated, we were able to wrap him in a dry blanket, remove the snare from his neck and get him into the truck and off to a rehabilitation facility without incident. Everyone survived unscathed – although I’m certain the bobcat was much better prepared for going into the water than we were!

 

Learn more: