This startled-looking bobcat was snapped by a trail camera in January 2015.

Photos helping in wildlife study

Pictures submitted by outdoor enthusiasts are shining new light on bobcat and lynx habitats in the province.

Graduate student TJ Gooliaff, whose research into lynx and bobcat habitats was reported on in The Journal on February 23 (“Photo evidence wanted for wildlife study”), reports that his request for photographs has yielded 3,000 pictures from all over the province.

The photos are allowing Gooliaff, who is an MSc candidate and biologist in training at the University of B.C. Okanagan in Kelowna, to try to determine if the habitats of both species are shifting due to climate change.

Lynx, with their long legs and large, snowshoe-like paws, have traditionally been found throughout the province and at higher elevations, while bobcats—which have smaller feet and sink into the snow—are more typically found at lower elevations and in southern B.C. Gooliaff says that some of the photographs he has received have produced some surprises.

“We’re getting photos of bobcats further north than I expected at the beginning of the project. We’re seeing them around Quesnel and Prince George, and around Houston, which is even more of a surprise. Bobcats are usually seen following the Fraser River, and sticking to the valleys. It’s a higher elevation in Houston, and it’s more heavy timber, not shrub country. Bobcats are more a desert animal; they’re not in the higher elevations.”

Although they can be difficult to tell apart, there are distinct differences between lynx and bobcats. A study is attempting to show whether bobcats are moving into traditional lynx territory in the province. Photo courtesy TJ Gooliaff

He adds that while these preliminary findings seem to show bobcats much further north than has previously been thought, it’s too soon to tell whether they have always been there, or have recently moved northward.

One of Gooliaff’s next steps will be to look at the track data for the province, which records animal footprints. Another research tool is the harvest records, which go back to the 1920s. “These are trapping records, and from them we can tell if bobcat were trapped in northern areas in the past. We can then compare historical distribution with the current distribution.”

One drawback is that the harvest records cover a large area, and are not specific. The pictures he has received from hunters, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts, however, show “where the animals are right now, and are very specific.”

Gooliaff says he will be collecting photos for at least the next six months, and asks that anyone who has taken a picture of a lynx or bobcat anywhere in B.C. please send him the photos. “They can be taken with a trail camera or a conventional camera, from all corners of the province and from all time periods. The photos don’t have to be great photography; they just have to show a bobcat or a lynx, or even just a part of one. They can be blurry or dark, and don’t even have to clearly show which cat species is present.”

The pictures will not be published or shared with anyone without permission, and photographers will retain ownership of their photos. Gooliaff adds that he will gladly share the results of his study with anyone who is interested. Photos, along with the date and location of each, can be sent to Gooliaff at tj.gooliaff@ubc.ca.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

UPDATE: Fire forces closures and delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

Motorists should detour using Kootenay Lake ferry

Evacuation alert issued for City of Kimberley

Three hours after an evacuation order was issued for the St. Mary Valley, an evacuation alert was issued for the nearby community of Kimberley.

Louise Baxter found after 72 hour search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights can be misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Vancouver Whitecaps give up late goal in 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls

Four of Vancouver’s next five games are at home

B.C. man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Most Read