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Present and historical bobcat population trends in New Mexico and the West

  • Author(s): Nunley, Gary Lee
  • et al.
Abstract

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) populations throughout the West have reportedly decreased from the high levels of the early sixties. This decrease is also reflected in the annual New Mexico bobcat take of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when based on a bobcat trapped per man-year of effort relationship from 1916 through 1976. Bobcat populations in New Mexico were comparably low from 1916 through 1948. In 1949 through 1950 populations began to increase to triple their highest pre-1948 levels by the late fifties. New Mexico bobcat populations began to decrease in the early sixties to present levels typical before 1948. The same New Mexico bobcat population trends reflected by this data are also reflected throughout the West in the combined bobcat take totals for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the western states. The bobcat population decrease from the early 1960's was not caused by habitat loss, fur trapping, or predator control. The unprecedented bobcat increase in the early fifties was in direct response to the general reduction of coyote numbers throughout the West by the use of sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) as a coyote control tool. After several years, coyotes began to increase their numbers, and bobcat numbers responded inversely by a decrease of their numbers down to present lower levels. Bobcat, skunk, fox, and badger numbers have all responded inversely to that of coyote numbers due to the coyote's role as an efficient competitor and predator upon these other carnivores.

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