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Lynx rufus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA FELIDAE

Scientific Name: Lynx rufus
Species Authority: (Schreber, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English Bobcat, Bay Lynx
French Lynx Roux, Chat Sauvage
Spanish Gato Montés, Lince, Lince Rojo
Taxonomic Notes: Placed in Lynx according to genetic analysis (Johnson et al. 2006, Eizirik et al. 2008)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Kelly, M., Caso, A. & Lopez Gonzalez, C.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern because the bobcat is an abundant and wide-ranging species which does not meet any of the criteria for inclusion on the Red List.
History:
2002 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Bobcats occur mostly in the United States, but also into southern Canada and northern Mexico. Historically, bobcats ranged throughout the contiguous US, but were extirpated from parts of the midwest and East coast (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), although they appear to be recolonizing or becoming more abundant (Govt of US 2007). Their range in Canada has been expanding northward with forest clearance (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). While generally favoring low and mid-elevations, in the western US they have been trapped at elevations up to 2,575 m (Nowell and Jackson 1996). In Mexico, radio-collared bobcats were located at 3,500 m on the Colima Volcano in western Mexico (Burton et al. 2003).
Countries:
Native:
Canada (British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward I., Québec); Mexico; United States (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In the early 1980s, state wildlife authorities estimated the total US bobcat population at 725,000 to 1 million (Nowell and Jackson 1996). There have been no subsequent national population estimates, but bobcats are considered to be increasing by the national governments of both the US and Canada (Govt of US 2007). In a few midwestern US states bobcats have a limited distribution. The population in Mexico is not well known; it appears to be very rare in some areas in central Mexico (A. Caso pers. comm. 2007).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In the US, the bobcat ranges through a wide variety of habitats, including boreal coniferous and mixed forests in the north, bottomland hardwood forest and coastal swamp in the south-east, and desert and scrubland in the south-west. Only large, intensively cultivated areas appear to be unsuitable habitat. Areas with dense understory vegetation and high prey density are most intensively selected by bobcats (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The requisite features of bobcat habitat typically include areas with abundant rabbit and rodent populations, dense cover, and shelters that function as escape cover or den sites (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). In Mexico, bobcats are found in dry scrub and grassland, as well as tropical dry forest including pine, oak and fir (Monroy-Vilchis and Velazquez 2003, Arzate et al. 2007, C. Lopez-Gonzalez pers. comm. 2007).

Like its close relative Lynx canadensis the bobcat preys primarily on lagomorphs (rabbits), but is much less of a specialist. Rodents are commonly taken, and bobcats are capable of taking larger prey, including young ungulates (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).

Home ranges vary with ecological setting, from 6 km² for female bobcats in southern California to 325 km² for male bobcats in upstate New York. Bobcats in northern and western portions of the United States are consistently larger than those in the south, possibly because the warmer climates provide a less variable prey base (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Density estimates include 48/100 km² in Texas (Heilbrun et al. 2006); 25/100 km² in Arizona (Lawhead 1984); 25-30/100 km² in NW Mexico (Moreno et al. in press); <9/100 km² in Idaho (Knick 1990); and 11/100 km² in Virginia (minimal estimate, M. Kelly pers. comm. 2007). Bobcat densities in the northern parts of their range are generally lower than in the south (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). However, the first density estimate for bobcats in Mexico is low, at five individuals per 100 km² (Arzate et al. 2007).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): World demand for bobcat fur rose gradually in the late 1960's and early 1970's and jumped in the mid-1970's after CITES entered into force, when the pelts of cats listed on Appendix I became legally unobtainable for the commercial fur trade (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The bobcat is now the leading felid in the skin trade, with most exports coming from the US. From 1990-1999, annual exports averaged 13,494; in 2000-2006 the average climbed to 29,772, with an all-time high of 51,419 skins exported in 2006 (UNEP-WCMC 2008).

The US government has found that trade is not detrimental to bobcat survival and is well-managed by state authorities. They have petitioned CITES numerous times, most recently in 2007, to remove the bobcat from the CITES Appendices, arguing that the bobcat does not meet the biological criteria for CITES listing and that their research indicates that importing governments should be able to reliably distinguish bobcat skins from other species to prevent illegal trade (Govt of US 2007). However, the proposal was rejected by majority vote of the Parties to CITES (Nowell et al. 2007).

Habitat loss is viewed as the primary threat to bobcats in all three range countries. There is concern in the northeastern US about interspecific competition with expanding coyote populations (Moruzzi et al. 2002, Litvaitis and Harrison 1989, Litvaitis et al. 2006). However, in Florida, where coyotes have also increased, Thornton et al. (2004) found that bobcats and coyotes favoured different prey species, with coyotes taking larger ungulates and bobcats rodents and smaller mammals.

In localized areas bobcats take domestic livestock and are persecuted as pests (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix II. The Mexican subspecies L. rufus escuinapae was listed on CITES Appendix I until 1992, when it was downlisted to Appendix II on the grounds that it is not a valid taxa (Govt of US 2007). Bobcats are legally harvested for the fur trade in 38 US states, and in seven Canadian provinces. In Mexico, the bobcat is legally hunted in small numbers as a trophy animal (Govt of US 2007). There appears to be little illegal international trade (Govt of US 2007), although within the US Millions and Swanson (2006) used molecular forensics techniques to determine that skins reported as originating from an area wiith a higher bag limit were probably illegally taken from an area with a lower limit.

Citation: Kelly, M., Caso, A. & Lopez Gonzalez, C. 2008. Lynx rufus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 November 2014.
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