To all that love or appreciate nature, we have some great news on campus! Using a wildlife camera, research assistants from the Environmental Center recently captured day and night photos of a bobcat (Lynx rufus) in the UNF Sawmill Slough Preserve. Bobcats have been spotted in the past but not confirmed since 2014 within the Preserve. This is exciting for the campus as it shows that an important top predator is maintaining itself in the preserve. Additionally, wildlife camera photos of marsh rabbit, raccoon, Virginia opossum, white-tailed deer and armadillo further prove that the Sawmill Slough Preserve is a viable and functioning ecosystem.
Bobcats can be fairly common in Florida, although they are rarely seen. This is due to their primarily nocturnal habits and extremely secretive nature. They have sharp senses and the ability to hear and smell whatever is happening around them from a considerable distance. This 15-35 pound feline is about twice the size of a domestic cat and is harmless to humans. If you see one in the preserve consider yourself lucky!
Home ranges of bobcats, or the area where an animal spends its time, are quite large and in rural areas or unbroken habitat can be up to 10 square miles (6,400 acres). In suburban/mixed habitats such as the UNF Sawmill Slough Preserve and its adjacent natural areas the range may only be a square mile or two. They travel extensively through their territory and eat a diverse array of small animals such as squirrels, cotton rats, rabbits, birds and reptiles. Bobcats can survive in just about every habitat type that Florida has to offer, from swamps to our state’s high and dry scrub terrain. Saw palmetto thickets are favored sites for raising kittens, and these palms are plentiful in the Sawmill Preserve’s pine flatwood and sandhill areas.
Jake Tucker is a senior pursuing an Environmental Studies degree, with a minor in Biology. He has a background in the environmental field and is passionate about conserving biodiversity and land restoration.