MARCH IS THE MONTH OF
(03/28) TRENTON - March highlighted
the bobcat as the third endangered species featured monthly
as part of the Department of Environmental Protection's
(DEP) yearlong awareness campaign marking the thirtieth
anniversary of New Jersey's Endangered Species Conservation
Act of 1973.
Late February through early April is the
breeding season for these elusive felines, recognized by
their bobbed tail, ear tufts and grayish-brown streaked
and spotted fur. Typical bobcat habitat in New Jersey consists
of forests, early succession vegetation and agricultural
areas that provide dense cover for protection from the weather
and from predators. Bobcats often use areas with caves,
ledges and rock outcrops that provide shelter and cover
for hunting and rearing their young.
"Maintaining a sustained bobcat population
in New Jersey continues to be a challenge," said DEP
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "This animal requires
large parcels of land that are relatively free from human
habitation and alteration, along with travel corridors between
parcels. This delicate type of habitat must be considered
as we pursue strategies related to the Governor's anti-sprawl
New Jersey's bobcat population first experienced
declines in the mid-1800s as forests were cleared for lumber,
fuel, charcoal and agricultural use. Between 1950 and 1970,
reports of bobcat sightings and mortalities persisted, but
by the early 1970s they were thought to be locally extinct.
In 1972 the species gained legal protection when it was
classified as a game species with a closed season.
Between 1978 and 1982 the Division of Fish
and Wildlife conducted a restoration project through which
24 bobcats were trapped in Maine and released in northern
New Jersey. In 1991 the bobcat was added to New Jersey's
list of endangered species, where they remain. Current management
efforts involve the use of satellite transmitters that allow
biologists to monitor bobcat locations in order to determine
Bobcats are found primarily in the northern
counties of Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren, though unconfirmed
reports have also been received from the eastern, central
and southern counties.
As part of the yearlong celebration of
species conservation, the DEP will focus each month on a
different threatened or endangered species found in New
New Jersey's Endangered and Nongame Species
Act was signed into law on December 14, 1973, two weeks
before President Nixon signed the federal Endangered Species
Act. The law is designed to protect species whose survival
in New Jersey is imperiled by loss of habitat, over-exploitation,
pollution, or other impacts. New Jersey currently lists
over 70 endangered and threatened species in New Jersey.
For more information on each month's featured
endangered species visit the DEP's website at http://www.state.nj.us/dep.