Assess homeowner and neighborhood attitudes towards bobcats in areas utilized by radioed bobcats
Contact homeowners and neighborhoods that include areas utilized by radioed bobcats. Survey individuals for their attitudes towards “living with bobcats.” Identify real or perceived conflicts or fear issues and develop strategies to reduce conflicts and increase knowledge and appreciation of bobcats as watchable wildlife. The bobcatsintucson.net website and firstname.lastname@example.org as contact points for individuals wishing to report bobcat activity in their neighborhood, take the study survey on living with bobcats, provide study information and updates, and map non-radioed bobcat use of urban areas in Tucson. Information gathered will be used to minimize conflicts and optimize appreciation of bobcats and will be applicable not only to Tucson but in other areas of the state where there is a wildlife permeable wildlands/urban interface such as Scottsdale, Cave Creek, and other parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Identify bobcat natal dens and kitten rearing habitat
Many of the urban bobcat sightings and concerns focus on females who raise kittens in urban situations. Little is known about where bobcat females using urban habitats den, and how successful they are in raising kittens in an urban environment. We will determine reproductive timing, natal den selection, and kitten rearing habitat of radioed female bobcats living on the urban/wildlands interface. We will also estimate the reproductive success of radioed female bobcats based on location of den sites, trail cameras, and daily radio telemetry monitoring of female movements. This will provide the Arizona Game and Fish Department with much needed information on females raising kittens in urban environments, and how to mitigate potential conflicts and increase appreciation of this high-quality watchable wildlife opportunity in Tucson and other areas where bobcats utilize a wildlands/urban interface.
Evaluate habitat use and selection of bobcats at the urban/wildlands interface
Microsite information will be collected at kitten and den-rearing sites. This will include structure used, visibility, and other habitat variables.
Landscape level habitat variables will be assessed using GIS capabilities and overlay of bobcat locations over existing layers such as vegetation type, level of urban development, distance to roads, water, rabbit densities of urban, altered, and wildlands habitats, and other variables to determine habitat use versus availability.
Determine annual survival, mortality causes, and home range size of bobcats using the urban/wildlands interface
Annual survival, mortality causes, and home range size of bobcats using the urban/wildlands interface will be directly comparable to an ongoing AZGFD study of bobcats living in natural habitats, thus providing additional insight into the species and its current status and biology in Arizona.
Initial bobcat capture will occur within .5 miles of Tucson Mountain Park or Saguaro Mountain Park Boundary in West Tucson along the eastern border urban interface from north of Ajo Highway and include the Marriott Starr Pass Resort area, Gates Pass area, and Pima County owned conservation properties. Subsequent capture efforts will focus on urban areas. Bobcat movements will ultimately define the study area. Capture efforts will focus on adult residents.
Bobcats are captured in cage traps, chemically immobilized, and fitted with GPS enabled satellite collars which provide 2-12 GPS locations/day and include a mortality and remote drop off on command function. VHF telemetry will be used to identify den sites, kitten rearing habitat, and mortality sites. Blood and DNA samples will be collected for analysis. Radio collars include remote drop off on demand so the collar can be removed prior to exhaustion of battery life or at the end of the study.
Increase homeowner, neighborhood, city, and statewide level appreciation of bobcats as watchable wildlife
Provide homeowners and neighborhoods frequented by radioed bobcats opportunities to learn more from study personnel including “Bobcat Night Out” field opportunities, and programs upon request from organizations, and neighborhood HOA’s. Invite homeowners with resident bobcats to collect observation data as part of a “Urban Bobcat Citizen Scientist” effort.
Develop and maintain an online presence for the Tucson Urban/Wildlands Bobcat Study to provide interested individuals study updates, and access to upcoming study related events.
Provide the AZGFD with a “Status of our knowledge of urban bobcats” resource to assist in answering homeowner questions and concerns, as well as materials that can be provided to individuals and neighborhoods living with bobcats directed towards reducing conflict and increasing appreciation and knowledge of bobcats as watchable wildlife. This document will be applicable in the Tucson area but also in areas of Phoenix and other locations in the Valley of the Sun including Scottsdale, Carefree, Cave Creek, and other areas where bobcats utilize urban habitats.