District Ranger Update for July 2019 part 2
This is part 2 of U.S. Forest service Warm Springs and James River district ranger, Elizabeth McNichols, July report.
District employees and volunteers are hard at work on our local trails. Local volunteers are helping accomplish trail clearing, mowing, brushing, re-blazing, and putting up new signs. If you or your organization are interested in volunteering on our trails team, keeping local trails in the National Forest maintained, please call the James River or Warm Springs office at 540-839-2521.
August 9th is Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday. Our district’s planned a large celebration that evening starting at 5pm at the Covington city pool, in Covington, Va. Smokey bear will be there to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. Save the date for a fun event for children including free swimming for the kids.
In the last several years, Virginia Tech has been researching predators in bath County including coyote, bear, and bobcat. Bobcats can be found throughout the Commonweath, with higher concentrations in lower elevations. They are naturally nocturnal and they can range 13 square miles for males and 5 for females.
The bobcat got it’s name for it’s bobbed, stubby tail. It is half the size of its northern cousin, the Lynx, but twice as big as a domestic house cat. Bobcats are tawny in color with yellow eyes, tufted wing tipped ears, and a bobbing gate due to longer back legs. Females can weigh up to 20 pounds and males can reach to over 30. They can live 1-14 years in the wild and 32 years is the record lifespan in captivity.
The bobcat is a primary predator of small game with a preference for squirrels, rabbits, young deer, insects and small rodents. They are useful to farmers since they kill small rodents. They are excellent climbers and on occasion will feed on birds and fish. Feeding occurs from dusk until dawn as they move quietly through the night stalking their prey and then ambushing it with a short chase or pounce.
The breeding season of bobcats is from early January to March. A litter of 1-5 kittens are born in April or May in a den. Both male and female bring meat to the kittens. Kittens may be eaten by owls, eagles, foxes, and coyote.
Bobcats have few predators other than man. Humans have hunted and trapped these cats for hundred of years for sport or fur. Despite hunting influence and near eradication in the early 1900s, bobcats have recovered in the last few decades and their numbers in the wild remain steady.
Today’s quote is anonymous- “To be both wild and intelligent at the same time is the mark of practiced genius.”
For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Elizabeth McNichols