CARMEL, Ind. (November 20, 2014) – The number of bobcats and coyotes is growing in Indiana, according to conservation officers with the Department of Natural Resources.
Bobcats were once an endangered species, but since the 1970s their numbers have grown. They are most common in south-central Indiana and parts of northern Indiana, but there have been sightings recently in Hamilton, Johnson, Hendricks and other central Indiana counties.
“Their population is increasing,” says DNR Conservation Officer Jet Quillen. “They are a little more rare than the coyotes, but we’ve had them for a long time. They used to be endangered. Now they are just a special concern as far their populations go, but we are seeing more and more of them around central Indiana.”
However, because they are still protected, Quillen says you can’t do much if one comes onto your property.
“You can’t be shooting them, trapping them, anything like that,” he says. “If you do inadvertently trap one, call the Department of Natural Resources. We’ll come out and assist you in releasing it.”
Bobcats are roughly twice the size of a domesticated cat and usually weigh about 20 pounds. Quillen says attacks are unlikely, but people should still be on alert.
“They’re very skittish animals. So they are going to be extremely scared of you. If they see you, they are going to go the other way. We have had no reports of humans being attacked by coyotes or bobcats, so no fears there,” Quillen says. “I would not put it past them as far as taking a small, domesticated cat, but dogs I would say are probably not a likelihood.”
Bobcats aren’t the only concern. In Hamilton County, the Department of Natural Resources’ Fish and Wildlife Division is partnering with the Hamilton County Parks Department to offer a free informational meeting on December 3 about dealing with urban coyotes. It will take place at the Cool Creek Nature Center in Carmel from 6 p.m. from 8 p.m.
“We’ve always had coyotes. Now with urban expansion, new developments and neighborhoods popping up all over the place, we’re taking away from their habitat,” says Quillen. “It is going to be more common now to see them around. They’re mostly nocturnal animals, but they do get brave and come out during the daytime.”
Coyotes have been known to attack cats and small dogs. Quillen says pet owners should keep a close eye on their pets when letting them outside. He says cutting down on food sources that attract coyotes is also a good idea.
“Coyotes are opportunistic feeders. They are going to go for the easiest food source possible. That’s going to be dog food, cat food left out, your trash cans or bird feeders. They feed on small rodents and those small rodents are going to be attracted to the bird feed. So if you can eliminate all of those things, take away the food sources, you won’t see them as much.”
Unlike bobcats, you are permitted to trap or kill coyotes.
“Coyotes are considered a nuisance animal in the state of Indiana. So if you are on your own property, or another property with written permission, you can actually trap or shoot those coyotes,” he says. “There is also a coyote season.”
Coyote season for 2014-2015 is October 15 - March 15.