Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New York Project

Bobcat monitoring in New York

January 2023 - April 2025


Participating Agencies

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The season structure for bobcat hunting and trapping remained mostly unchanged from 1976-2012, with harvest seasons restricted to northern and southeastern New York. Analyses of bobcat observation data from the 2012-2017 Management Plan for Bobcat in New York State found that populations in portions of central and western New York had recovered to a point where they could sustain a limited harvest season. This management plan expanded harvest opportunities for bobcats by extending the trapping season throughout northern NY from December 10th to February 15th, extending the hunting and trapping season in central Tug Hill until February 15th, and opening a large portion of the southern tier, Mohawk River valley, and the New York City transition area (referred to as the Harvest Expansion Area, or HEA) for a bobcat harvest for the first time since 1976. When the expanded seasons opened in 2013, high fur prices coupled with the novelty of a new season led to New York’s largest bobcat harvest in over 20 years. Since that first season, the harvest in the Harvest Expansion Area has declined. While this is likely primarily driven by decreases in pelt prices, the bobcat harvest in western wildlife management units (WMUs) remains lower than expected. These low harvest numbers make it difficult to estimate population trends using harvest data and raise concerns that the harvest may be negatively impacting the bobcat population in these areas. There is a need for harvest-independent indices to better evaluate the bobcat population and impacts of the limited harvest season and make appropriate management recommendations. The collection of observation data from the general public has proven useful in monitoring changes in distribution of bobcat at little cost to the agency, but these data alone provide limited information on bobcat abundance needed to make refined management decisions. This project will develop a protocol for long-term surveys to provide robust, harvest-independent metrics such as occurrence and density of bobcats in central and western New York. These metrics will be used to inform decisions on additional harvest opportunities in areas with closed seasons and modification of existing seasons to maximize opportunity while ensuring a sustainable harvest.