NEW STRAITSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Video footage of bobcats recorded in a forest near a reclaimed coal mine is a hopeful sign of the species’ recovery in southeast Ohio and that environmental rehabilitation efforts are working, wildlife and environmental group officials said.
Rural Action recorded a bobcat and her three kittens using an infrared motion sensing camera attached to a tree in the Wayne National Forest, The Columbus Dispatch has reported. The group has installed six of the cameras in forests around unregulated coal mines where millions of dollars have been spent on environmental cleanup.
The footage included the mother bobcat winning a standoff with a coyote over a deer carcass at a bait station where the camera was focused. Other cameras have recorded gray fox, deer, rabbits, turkeys and woodpeckers.
“It was exciting to see kittens and know that bobcats are successfully mating here,” said Katrina Schultes, a wildlife biologist for the forest. “That suggests these animals have come back on their own and are recolonizing the available habitats in Ohio.”
Bobcats were nearly wiped out in Ohio during the 1800s by hunting and loss of habitat. After what has been a slow revival, bobcats were removed from Ohio’s endangered species list in Ohio in 2014. Wildlife officials plan to use footage from the infrared cameras installed in December for the state’s annual bobcat report. There were 197 verified bobcat sightings in 39 Ohio counties during 2014.
The environmental rehabilitation work around abandoned and unregulated coal mine continues. Rural Action’s Monday Creek Restoration Project has spent about $16 million since 1994 to clean up and reclaim streams and land around the creek, project coordinator Nate Schlater said.
Work to reclaim the 27-mile long tributary and other streams includes neutralizing the highly acidic, orange-tinted, and smelly water that leaks from nearby abandoned mines.
The Monday Creek Project covers more than 100 square miles while contending with 15,000 acres of underground abandoned mines. The creek was highly acidic when cleanup began 20 years ago. Schlater likened water in the creek 20 years ago to vinegar.
Aquatic wildlife has since been revived, increasing from four fish species then to 35 today, including seven types of darters along with large-mouth, small-mouth and spotted bass.
“This shows that water quality is improving significantly,” Schlater said.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com