Bobcat Population Status and Management in North America


Bobcats, also called from their latin name Lynx rufus are a species considered as one of the most adaptable predators and is extensively dispersed around North America and some parts of Mexico. The bobcat is one of the main predators that is on top of the ecosystems and can affect its functions through direct or indirect threats or changes. Bobcats are predators affecting the white-tailed deer population, cotton rats and pronghorn. Therefore, it is important when implementing new managements on bobcats to analyse the indirect effect of those management, or bobcats can used to help management populations in specific areas. There is a general difficulty in managing predators and especially bobcats as they are an elusive nature and there is also many gaps about them and their demographic rates. Many of the studies and monitoring of bobcats have been done in a specific limited geographic scope. Representatives assume usually that a 20% rate of harvest is sustainable, although there is always a risk in environmental factors that make the count unstable. Due to their large population scale there is a need for scientists and governments to assess the population on a large geographical scale, which is considered as one of the most important research topic for the bobcats species. There has been local and regional population assessment on a small scale that have stated that the bobcat population is increasing over the years but there is no empirical evidence to support this argument for the moment. The focus of this study is to monitor efforts, spatial distribution and population trends in North America. The result received from the study can be used for bobcat management planning in BC as a management plan model.

Methods and Data Analysis

The main method used for the study was done by agency surveys, contacting wildlife management agencies from 48 neighbouring stated in the United States, 7 Canadian Provinces, and Mexico in 2008. The agencies were asked to hand in reports that included different questions such as the methods used to monitor bobcat status, the estimated population and its density on average and information on suitable bobcat habitat area. The monitoring methods included public sightings, harvest analysis, hunter surveys, population models, scent or sign stations, snow track surveys, incidental harvest, vehicle collision analysis and others.

Concerning the data analysis the states reporting bobcat populations were compared with results between 1996 to 2008 using chi-square tests. As for the calculation of the overall population, the average bobcat density was calculated with the reporting of both population and habitat areas and then multiplied it with the average by the geographic range estimates of population. This method allows an overall estimate of the population across a large-scale geographical area which facilitates comparison with historic estimates.

Results and Discussion

Responses from the reports were sent to different agencies to identify the total area of suitable bobcat habitat of 819,524 km2 for Canada. There was an overall estimate for the population trends that shows an increase of 64,6% in the United States and a total of 31,3% that showed stability in the population.

Bobcats are highly valuable not only for their ecological role but economic value as furbearers; this is the main motivations for such intensives research and management plans. There is a generally trend that supports the fact that bobcat population increases and is expanding on a large-scale geographical area. There could me many factors involved in the growth of the population such as agricultural and land-use practise changes, range expansion, and habitat improvement programs like the Conservation Reserve Program. Moreover, the expansion of wildlife management and monitoring programs provide a great improvement for furbearer management.

However, the limitation with surveys is that they are not always reliable and some agencies might not even provide any results which could change the population data.


The bobcat species is an adaptable one that is also essential to the ecosystem in which it lives in. The study focused on the monitoring of the bobcat population in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The only limitation with surveys are the fact that the numbers are not always reliable and details can be limited.

Bobcats in:

  • Source Roberts NM, Crimmins SM. 2010. Bobcat population status and management in North America: evidence of large-scale population increase. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 1(2):169–174; e1944-687X. doi: 10.3996/ 122009-JFWM-026