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

Trail taxpayers face $16,000 tab for vandalized parking meters

In a recent rash of vandalism in downtown Trail, 30+ parking meters were broken into & coins stolen

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

Thunderstorms headed to the West Kootenay

Environment Canada re-issued their special weather statement this morning,

Evacuation alert expands north to Ymir

Rising waters along Erie Creek and Salmo River

Trail council pitches relief to Rossland ballplayers

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore said it’s time to look at the future of recreation funding

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Vegas Golden Knights have done the impossible and have a chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup

Changes needed for ‘Alert Ready’ mass emergency system

‘You need to strike this careful balance between alerting people to lots of problems — and doing it too often’

Las Vegas Golden Knights move on to Stanley Cup final

Improbable run continues for NHL’s newest expansion team

Oregon’s flooded recreational pot market a cautionary tale to Canada

‘In a broader sense, we are adding legal production to an already robust illegal production’

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

Most Read