Researchers studying recent bobcat boom in RI

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The bobcat population in Rhode Island has increased significantly as of late and local researchers are working to find out why.

The elusive felines are not unlike other cats. In fact, researchers from the University of Rhode Island and Department of Environmental Management are using feathers and shiny objects such as pie plates to lure them into traps.

URI Research Associate Amy Mayer said the group is hoping to start by finding out the habitats they’re using and their home range.

“Eventually, once we get enough and get more genetics, we want to get an idea of the actual population,” she said Tuesday.

Bobcats eat rabbits, birds, and mice and don’t present a real threat to humans.

“They’re going to stay away, they’re very shy animals,” Mayer added. “They’re going to avoid us as much as possible.”

Researchers have been trying to trap the bobcats since October and have trail cameras set up at the traps. Mayer said they’ve trapped one cat, which they anesthetized, measured, and put a GPS collar on so they could track it after release.

“The one we captured, we collared it in Kingston,” Mayer explained. “It traveled all the way into Bonnet Shores, then all the way into Stonington, Connecticut at one point.”

Mayer said she was surprised to see how far the bobcat traveled, adding that they have evidence it may be swimming across bodies of water.

The team hopes to trap and track another five bobcats in the near future to learn more about the species.

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