Column gave true picture of bobcats

Fred LeBrun’s recent column “On Counting Bobcats” [September/October 2013] was excellent, for so many are naive about this animal’s ecological robustness.

Yes, bobcats are doing well. They are also beginning to inhabit most of New York, including the central New York farm country where smaller dairy farms are being abandoned.

Every small farm with cattle has feral cats, probably some diseased with panleukopenia, as my students discovered, and this kept bobcats out of this part of the state when more farms operated.

Indeed, a neighbor found good evidence of a bobcat-killed fawn and tracks adjacent to our land south of Syracuse.

I would not be surprised if bobcats become common throughout most of the state in a few years with higher abundance down here than in the Adirondacks, as prey is plentiful. However, as LeBrun points out, seeing one is a rare event anywhere and trapping is about the only way to keep tabs on the population as I tried to note in my earlier article in the Explorer [“A good plan for bobcats,” July/August 2012]. But given the anthropomorphizing trend we are seeing, trapping may unfortunately be a thing of the past in a few years.

Rainer Brocke, Lafayette

Brocke is professor emeritus at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

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