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Species Spotlight: Preserving the Movements of the Bobcat

Apr 25, 2024 | MSHCP, Species

On the prowl with stealthy movements and a piercing gaze, this solitary hunter navigates across large expanses of undisturbed habitat, silent and poised for action. The bobcat finds sanctuary roaming in the rugged expanse of the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) reserve lands such as the Santa Rosa Plateau in the Santa Ana Mountains, the Badlands, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Lake Perris, the San Jacinto Mountains, and beyond. Key conservation areas preserved by the MSHCP serve as lifelines for the bobcat, facilitating dispersal of the species and movement across the vast region.

As apex predators, bobcats play a vital role in regulating prey populations. They are primarily carnivores with rabbits comprising the bulk of their diet. However, their diet is adaptable, and bobcats will supplement with the occasional rodent and may target larger prey. Their diet reflects what prey is available. Regionally, other prey in their diet includes woodrats, deer fawn, birds, and reptiles. While primarily nocturnal, bobcats are most active in the early morning and late evening with their lowest period of activity being midday.

The bobcat’s lifespan can reach up to 32 years in captivity, but in the wild, it is considerably shorter due to various factors including predation, disease, and habitat loss and fragmentation. In addition to the natural threats and challenges they face; bobcats must also navigate an ever-changing landscape due to human development. Activities like hiking, mountain biking, and off-road vehicles disrupt their territories, and increase the risk of vehicle collisions.

To mitigate these risks, roadway fencing built near movement linkages helps funnel bobcats into wildlife crossings and reduces vehicular collisions by redirecting bobcats away from danger and preserving their movement corridors. The collaborative efforts of organizations helping to implement the MSHCP are crucial in safeguarding the future of bobcats and other wildlife. Through the construction of wildlife crossings and habitat preservation, a future where the bobcat can continue to roam safely and freely throughout their natural environment is ensured.

As a Permittee of the MSHCP, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) has incorporated many undercrossings into its transportation projects that help preserve core linkages essential for bobcat movement. One RCTC project that ensured the successful movement of bobcat and other wildlife across the landscape by incorporating wildlife crossings into its design was the State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project. This project established two large wildlife crossings and incorporated wildlife fencing into the design to maintain the functionality of a movement corridor frequently used by bobcats.

Thanks to the MSHCP, nearly half a million acres of land supporting suitable habitat for the bobcat are slated for conservation in western Riverside County. Prioritizing the conservation of these lands and fostering coexistence between humans and wildlife, we can ensure that these magnificent creatures can continue to roam safely, with open space to thrive throughout the region.