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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/14/03

Contact: Elaine Makatura
609-292-2994

MARCH IS THE MONTH OF THE BOBCAT

(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 initiatives."

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 habitat ranges.

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 Jersey.

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.

 

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