2022 Season in Review

(April 2023)  2022 marked the fifth and final year of Project Wild Coshocton’s annual camera trapping survey.  A small army of undergraduate student researchers are poring over the hundreds of thousands of photos we have collected, meticulously recording every animal our cameras detected. Although this chapter of PWC is coming to a close, we have several related projects that are now underway!

But first, let’s review what our cameras found in 2022.  As mentioned in my last post, 2021 saw a precipitous drop in the number of sites occupied by bobcats.  We are happy to report that bobcat occupancy rebounded in 2022, although not quite to the levels we saw in 2020.

As anyone who operates trail cameras can tell you, there is always a sense of anticipation and excitement when you check your memory cards for photos!  I will miss the candid glimpses of wildlife afforded by our cameras, and the occasional surprise of finding a bobcat at a site where we hadn’t ever found them before.  It has truly been a privilege to be allowed to set cameras on so many beautiful properties across Coshocton and southern Holmes counties.  Here are a few of our best bobcat photos from 2022:



So what comes next?  We are continuing to explore interactions between animals scavenging on deer carcasses, to better understand the competitive hierarchy.  A deer carcass represents a tremendous food resource for many predators-turned-opportunistic-scavengers in the depths of winter!  We are particularly interested in how bobcats and coyotes interact, and which species is dominant.  However, the unusually warm winter we just had hindered our ability to set up many deer carcasses this year (nobody — believe me, nobody — wants to move around deer carcasses when it’s over 60 degrees F!).  We will continue this project next year.

We are also exploring ways to improve habitat for bobcats by constructing artificial dens.  It is possible that some forest tracts may provide enough food and space for bobcats, but a lack of suitable denning sites might hinder their ability to become established.  In December of 2022, we tried our hand at designing and constructing four bobcat dens.  We selected a location in Coshocton county known to be home to bobcats as our test site.  We are monitoring the dens with trail cameras both outside and inside of the dens.  So far, a variety of animals have entered the dens, including raccoons, opossum, mice, and groundhogs.  We also have photos of coyote, red fox, and even a bobcat inspecting the dens from the outside, but not yet going in.  Hopefully as the dens “age into” the landscape, they may become more attractive to bobcats.  If we have success with bobcats using our dens, we hope to construct more in the future.  Stay tuned 🙂