SIU researcher studying bobcat, coyote habitat in Illinois

 
 
Updated 7/11/2021 8:28 AM

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A Southern Illinois University researcher is tracking coyotes and bobcats to understand the habitats they seek and how they affect them.

Nicole Gorman is a graduate zoology student and a research assistant at SIU's Wildlife Research Laboratory in Carbondale. She is studying the movement of bobcats and coyotes in central and southern Illinois. Such midsize predators dominate North America and it's critical to understand their impact, she said.

 

'úStudying predator movement specifically can provide scientists with more details about their behavior and how they might be interacting with their environments and other species around them,'Ě Gorman said. 'úThis understanding can lead to effective wildlife management, benefiting predator and prey species alike.'Ě

Since starting in November 2019, Gorman has captured and tagged 33 of the animals at sites near Makanda and Lake Shelbyville. She says she traps them safely with foothold or cage traps and fits them with GPS transmitters to follow them.

She studies the incoming data to determine habitats they like and those they avoid. She also reviews their interaction with deer as part of a project on white-tailed deer movement sponsored by the U.S. Wildlife Restoration Fund and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

She's found coyotes and bobcats in heavily forested southern Illinois need not travel far to sustain themselves, but in the more agricultural central Illinois, their range can exceed 200 square miles.

Gorman hopes to finish the project in December. She aims to earn a doctorate and hopes to become a wildlife biologist for the federal government.

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