By Breanne Massey
A Biologist in Training Master of Science candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan has put out a call for photographs of bobcats and lynx to help determine the extent of the species presence in B.C.
TJ Gooliaffs study, which is being conducted in a partnership with the Ministry of Environment, aims to determine the provincial distribution of each species using latitude and longitude coordinates in conjunction with a collection of photography. He is looking for all forms of photography at varying levels dark and blurry, too with a location, date and time.
I am using photos of bobcats and lynx submitted by the public to help map the current provincial distribution of both species to determine if their ranges have shifted in response to climate change, said Mr. Gooliaff by email. I will create distribution maps for both species showing their current range in terms of latitude and elevation.
The decision to conduct research on the animals is to determine if bobcats are moving north into higher elevations because of climate change, which has led to earlier springs and lower snow level in western North America. Information will be collected from every corner of the province.
Historically, bobcats and lynx have been typically separated by snow depth, Mr. Gooliaff said. Lynx have extremely long legs and large snowshoe-like paws, making them well-adapted for traveling across deep snow. They are found in the boreal forests across Canada and Alaska, as well as in the mountain ranges extending south into Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
There are noticeable differences between the two species. In contrast, bobcats are heavier, have small feet, and sink into the snow.
They are found throughout the deserts and grasslands of the contiguous United States, as well as southern Canada, Mr. Gooliaff explained. I hypothesize that climate change has led to an expansion of bobcats throughout B.C., and potentially a contraction of lynx.
The big draw to collect submissions from the Columbia Valley, he added, is due to the diverse geography that attracts both animals to the region.
I am trying to determine whether the provincial distribution of bobcats or lynx has shifted over the past 30 years, said Mr. Gooliaff. The Columbia Valley is an area of particular interest because both species occur there and there is potential for bobcats to expand northward, or to higher elevations, through the valley.
He added that the photography does not need to be great and he encourages submissions that show a bobcat, lynx or simply part of one of the animals.
Location should be as specific as possible, he said, indicating that Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) or Lat/Long coordinates should be used.
If that information is not available, then please provide the name of the nearest road or landmark, including distance and direction from town, watershed or management unit.
He emphasized that submissions would be used for data as opposed to being shared publicly without permission. Evidence he gathers will not influence decisions that pertain to hunting bag limits or season dates.
To make a submission, email photographs to Mr. Gooliaff at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Karen Hodges at email@example.com.