Bobcat spotted, photographed by wildlife ecologist at Will County Nature Preserve – CBS Chicago
WILMINGTON, Illinois (CBS) – In a rare sighting in the suburbs, a bobcat was recently filmed wandering around the Sand Ridge Savanna Nature Reserve in County Will.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. But for the wildlife ecologist who took a photo of this bobcat, it could be worth even more.
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Becky Blankenship, a wildlife ecologist in Will County’s Forest Preserve district, recounted her reaction to seeing the bobcat.
“Oh my God – is this happening? Is this the species I am thinking of? Yes! It’s a lynx! ”She said.
Bobcat sightings typically occur in an area perhaps once every few years. Blankenship has now spotted three – the most recent in recent weeks at a forest preserve in Will County.
Blankenship spotted and photographed another bobcat family in September.
“I had these kittens playing with the thistle and pouncing on it,” she said. “I ended up having two weeks of pictures of the mother and her kittens, and it was so adorable.”
Getting the picture is an art. Blankenship attaches a camouflage camera to a tree.
The cameras are designed to blend in, so elusive creatures like the bobcat don’t even know they’re there.
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The only wild cat native to Illinois, the Bobcats get their name from their very obvious cut tails. Once considered an endangered species, their populations have since rebounded.
But don’t expect to see more. Unless they’re sick, it’s really rare to spot them – in part because they’re usually awake when you’re not.
It’s hard to get an exact bobcat population count because they’re so hard to follow – that’s what makes Blankenship’s photos so exciting.
Photos aren’t just cute. This is the first evidence that bobcats are among us on the Will County reserves.
“It could be due to the amount of surveillance cameras, but I would like to think that our bobcat populations are growing in size,” Blankenship said.
As well as rejoicing in his triumph, Blankenship hopes there will be more sightings to come.
“It’s a good sign for us. It tells us that what we do for habitat management is working, ”she said. “If this is a poor quality reserve, we might start to manage that reserve, but the sites they were on are of fairly good quality and are already being restored.”
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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has said there could be as many as 5,000 bobcats in Illinois, but most sightings are in the southern part of the state.