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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management

235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908

(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462


For Release: July 29, 1998

Contact: Lori Suprock 222-1267 or 789-0281

Stephanie Powell 222-2771 ext. 4418

ANIMAL HIT BY CAR IN EXETER CONFIRMED AS BOBCAT BY DEM; SIGHTINGS OF ELUSIVE CREATURE IN RHODE ISLAND ARE RARE

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed the presence of an adult bobcat (Lynx rufus) that was killed by a car in Exeter recently.

A passing motorist noticed the animal and took it to a local taxidermist for mounting. Fish and Wildlife Division staff then examined the animal, ascertained that it was, indeed, a bobcat, and a large one at that, weighing 27 pounds.

The Division plans to have the bobcat displayed at area museums and circulated at educational forums as soon as it has been prepared.

According to Lori Suprock, principal wildlife biologist at DEM, bobcats are elusive inhabitants of Rhode Island, accounting for only two or three sightings a year. The majority of the sightings have been in mostly uninhabited areas from West Greenwich to Charlestown, especially in ledgy terrain. They prefer to den in caves located in granite deposits.

"Threats to bobcats are numerous," Suprock said, "as they do not adapt to human civilization." Development, habitat encroachment, off road vehicles, trail bikes and snowmobiles all contribute to their decline. In addition, coyotes will out-compete bobcats for territory, further pushing them to the fringes of the remaining habitat. The number of bobcats in the state is unknown, as they are so elusive. However, bobcats are protected under Rhode Island state law. Protecting their habitat would be the only known way to secure their future.

"A few bobcat tracks were picked up in Exeter during scent post surveys that the Fish and Wildlife division ran in the 1980's," Suprock said. The scent posts consisted of a lure and fine soil sifted in a meter-sized circle by the side of dirt roads.

"However," she said, "bobcats don't usually give away their location by making obvious tracks. They haunt rocky or brushy areas that show little sign. Only their scat is obvious, as they cover their droppings with dirt that they have scratched in a 360-degree pattern."

Bobcats are nocturnal, and seldom venture out during daylight hours. They are very distinctive in appearance, with their tawny spotted fur, large tufted ears, cheeks, large hind legs and feet, and, of course, bobbed tail. The average weight of a bobcat ranges from 15 to 20 pounds, but 35 pounders have been recorded elsewhere.

Bobcats do not prefer to run, but rather walk, and creep up to their prey by stalking and pouncing. Preferred prey animals include rabbits, mice, rats, chipmunks, and, occasionally, deer. Although, chickens may also make up part of their diet, if available. Bobcats are the only predator in the state that will cover any uneaten prey with leaves and brush for later consumption.


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