Similar to a dog barking at a stranger at your door, birds alert one another when there is a threat in their neighborhood. On February 5th, as our recreation staff was finishing a meeting in Night Heron Park, we were alerted by a large group of crows creating a ruckus in the trees near the pond observation deck. We searched the nearby trees and shrub habitat, and determined the source of the crow noises- a small collared bobcat taking a snooze underneath a wax myrtle on the edge of the pond! We quietly watched her wake up from her slumber, stretch, yawn and slowly walk away. From her location and collar information, we determined her to be the 15lb Parkside 700 cat!
Each year the Kiawah Island, Town Biologists partner with the Kiawah Conservancy to conduct Bobcat (Lynx rufus) research to determine the health of the Bobcat population on the Island. Bobcats are a native mammal species to Kiawah and are important predators on the white tailed deer fawns, helping to naturally keep the deer population under control.
Each winter, Biologists Jim Jordan and Aaron Given set up traps in different locations on the Island. The traps safely contain a rooster (not harmed in any way), which is used to lure the bobcat into the trap. Once in the trap, the biologists safely sedate the Bobcat and outfit it with a radio GPS collar that will track the Bobcat as it travels around the Island. These GPS points provide valuable information about the types of habitat and resources used by the Bobcats, and what areas of the island are utilized the most.
The 2013 Bobcat project began on January 28th. To date 9 different bobcats have been trapped, six of which were fitted with GPS collars. Eight of the nine cats had been captured previously, including several originally tagged as kittens.
Let’s meet the 2013 cats! The bobcat number below reflects the collar number.
Bobcat 850– captured on January 29th on Captain Sam’s Spit at the western end of the island. This Bobcat is an adult male weighing 24lbs 4oz. He was previously captured in 2012.
Bobcat 300– captured on January 29th near Willet Pond. She is an adult female who had been previously collared in 2012, at which time she was named “McKenzie.”
Bobcat 700– an adult female captured on January 30th at Parkside Villas near Night Heron Park.
Bobcat 450- an adult female captured at Captain Sam’s Spit. She is the offspring of Bobcat # 220 from 2010!
Bobcat 750– captured on Flyway drive on February 1st, cat 750 is an adult male who was originally collared on March 21, 2008 as a juvenile.
Bobcat 900 – an adult female captured on Willet Island on February 2nd. This bobcat was originally collared in 2008 and again in 2009.
Additionally, on January 30th a 9-month-old Bobcat was captured in the Preserve. Finally on January 31st, a juvenile male was captured on Flyway Drive . Both of these cats were too small to be collared and were released.
This GPS project will be ongoing throughout the year. Visit the town’s website to follow our 2013 cats. In addition to the 6 Bobcat GPS collars, 2 coyote collars will be deployed this year. This is a new addition to the study for 2013. Although rare and not a threat to humans, coyotes have been spotted on Kiawah in recent years. Since Coyotes are not native to Kiawah and compete with bobcats and foxes for food, it is important to start to understand their impact on Kiawah’s ecosystem.