Bobcat Subfossils and Historical Records in Ohio May Suggest Decline but Not Extirpation

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The Bobcat (Lynx rufus: Carnivora, Felidae) is considered a rare species in the lands that make up the state of Ohio. Traditionally, the late-Holocene history of this animal is thought involve an extirpation period beginning around 1850 CE and a gradual reintroduction from around 1950 to 1970 CE. A radiocarbon test from a bobcat-containing cave assemblage in western Ohio (Taylorsville Metropark) has yielded a date between 1853 CE and 1897 CE, which prompted a review of scientific literature, written examples of oral history, and newspaper articles on Bobcats from across the region. While these records support the notion that Bobcat populations declined sharply in the mid 1800s CE, they combine with the cave remains to suggest that bobcat extirpation in Ohio may not have been fully realized. This implies that Ohio could have remained suitable habitat for wide-ranging individuals during this interval, or that cats from nearby refugia were able to make use of the northern part of the Ohio River Valley to a degree not easily detectable by humans. Additional remains from karst features elsewhere in the state and a broader survey of local records, oral histories, newspapers, etc. may provide further revelations into the biogeography of this and other Holocene species. Correspondence should be addressed to Ryan Shell,



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