Trapping bobcats on Kiawah Island for research

By Sonya

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's probably not an animal that you have seen up close and personal.

Bobcats are usually pretty shy around people but the biologists on Kiawah Island have to get friendly with the cats as they trap and collar them.

"This cat has been caught before either as a kitten or possibly last year as a juvenile so the cat has a pit tag," said Jim Jordan, a Kiawah Island biologist.

Jordan and Aaron Given, the town biologists, scan the tags to figure out which cat it is and then decide if the cat gets a collar.

"As long as it's more than 13 pounds, we will put a collar on it. We are just trying to figure out how old it is and if it's a male or female before we go ahead and drug it," said Jordan.

Once the bobcat is sedated, the biologists can get to work measuring, weighing and attaching the collar.

The first male of the year was collared on Friday. The bobcat is roughly two years old and weighs 14 pounds 14 ounces.

The beauty of the collar is that they will be able to track this cat even if it leaves the island.

Most of the bobcats stay on the island, which is how the biologists are able to trap six to eight of the animals every year.

"Each winter we set a number of traps trying to either recover collars from cats that maybe the collar didn't fall off like it was supposed to but we are also putting out new collars every year," said Jordan. "The battery life of these collars is about 10 months."

Since they trap every year, the biologists are always looking for ways to improve their method, especially if it saves time and money.

"Historically, we have used live roosters as bait and this year we are trying six traps that are just baited with feathers - part of a feather boa hanging in the back of the trap and we use a couple of different scents to try to lure the cat into the trap," said Jordan.

Occasionally they get other creatures, like raccoons, in the trap, which they set free.

Currently, two bobcats have been trapped and collared - one with the live bait and the other with the new method.

The town biologists are hoping to trap the other four within the next week.