WIU receives grant to study bobcats; hunters asked to not shoot tagged bobcats

Image courtesy of Chris Jacques and Ed Davis

The state of Illinois awarded one Tri-State university a $100,000 grant to study bobcats.

"This grant--I applied for it--was actually approached by the state back in 2015 and they were interested in studying bobcats in Northern Illinois," said Chris Jacques, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Western Illinois University.

Professor Jacques says the first phase of the project was to study the density of bobcats in the region.

Phase one is complete.

The grant will now allow Jacques and his team to build upon what they learned in addition to how bobcats survive.

So far they have captured and tagged 22 bobcats to study.

"Since we've captured them, we've established more of a 'relationship' with these cats and can now begin to understand patterns of survival," Jacques explained.

Once the bobcats are trapped, a collar that tracks their location is placed on them.

"They're going to be a little different than other critters I've worked on before so it'll be interesting to learn how and what cats do out there," said Ed Davis.

Davis is a grad student who is also working on the project. He’s studied multiple species but this is his first experience with bobcats.

"Currently we have VHF collars out there and that stands for very high frequency. All it does it put a little 'ping' kind of noise and some of our equipment we have we can pick that up and we can hear that. We actually have to be close to the cat though. We can't just be sitting here and find them. We have to go out and find those animals," said Davis.

Jacques and Davis can now use GPS collars to better track the bobcats with the $100,000 grant.

"With these GPS collars, we're going to know where they are. Even if they take off 200 miles, we'll be able to continue to know where they are," Davis said.

Now some of the bobcats have traveled out of range and are likely wandering around Adams County.

Professor Jacques and his team urge anyone in Adams County who may have seen a bobcat with either a tag on their ear or a tracking collar to contact the University immediately and to not shoot the animal.

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