Building Bobcat Alley
Once nearly extinct in our New Jersey, bobcats are trying to make a comeback. To survive, they need room to roam.
New Jersey's Last Wild Feline
Once nearly extinct in New Jersey—and still endangered here—bobcats are trying to regain a foothold in our local fields and forests.
But habitat loss and forest fragmentation continue to challenge their small population, disconnecting them from their historic range.
Bobcats have one of the largest home ranges of any animal in New Jersey. They roam an average of seven miles a day and can also move around into the neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania.
As development encroaches on their habitat, bobcats are more frequently pushed onto busy roadways like Route 80, with unfortunate results. In fact, car impacts are a leading cause of bobcat mortality; between 2007 and 2016, 47 bobcats were killed by cars in New Jersey. That represents as much as 20% of their entire population!
How We're Helping
We are working to protect critical habitat for these beautiful felines in northwestern New Jersey. The protected greenway will be a place where bobcats can roam, raise kittens and flourish.
"Bobcat Alley" is a 32,000-acre forested corridor in Northwestern New Jersey that is prime habitat for bobcats. Spanning from the Highlands to the Appalachian mountain ranges, (and connecting to more than 400,000 preserved acres in neighboring states) the greenway is about one-third protected. The Nature Conservancy and partners are aiming to protect an additional one-third of that land by 2027, and our first milestone toward that goal is protecting 3,500 acres by the end of 2020. Here’s a reason to celebrate: We are on track to reach 41% of that goal by the end of 2019!
This is a huge win for the endangered New Jersey bobcat—one that wouldn't be possible without you. But, land is at a premium and there is still much work to be done to ensure their long-term survival.
Studying Critter Crossings
While protecting habitat for endangered bobcats is a priority, we are also studying how connectivity improvements like culverts and overpasses can help decrease bobcat mortality.
TNC has teamed up with the New Jersey Endangered and Non-Game Species Program to implement Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ), a project to improve conditions for animals as they move around their home ranges and navigate around the dense (and dangerous) road network in our state.
We are assessing animal movement patterns across Bobcat Alley, focusing on areas where a high number are not making it through alive. Road kill surveys and camera trap data help inform the research, which allows us to prioritize scientifically where future connectivity improvements like culverts and overpasses may help decrease wildlife mortality. We are also collecting DNA to study how the density and volume of our highways affects the gene pools of New Jersey bobcats and other native mammals.
What You Can Do
Visit Bobcat Alley. The habitat corridor is anchored by two TNC preserves, Johnsonburg Swamp to the east and Blair Creek to the west. Both offer beautiful scenery, fresh air and varied hike opportunities, while also giving you an up-close look at quintessential New Jersey bobcat landscapes. Check nature.org for hours and directions.
Come to a TNC Event. Put your paws up for bobcats at one of our themed events, like the Bobcat Derby equestrian competition in Gladstone in August, or the Bobcats + Bourbon reception in Bernardsville in January. Join our email list or follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on all TNC events!
Spread the Word. Bobcats are one of the last vestiges of true wildness in our highly developed state. Help us raise their profile with New Jersey residents by sharing our bobcat content on social media and talking with friends and family about the interesting story these charismatic cats have here.
Donate to TNC. Your generosity has already helped us succeed this far. With land at a premium in our densely populated state, bobcats need as many engaged advocates as they can get to make sure they have a place to live here. TNC does the groundwork, but YOU are an integral part of that team.