Student Tracks Bobcats in Adair County

Senior biology major Adam Petry is on the prowl. Last spring, Petry and Scott Burt, associate professor of biology at Truman, captured five bobcats in Adair County and have been tracking their movements around the area since.

The capture of the animals kicked off Petry’s research study Home Range Size of the Bobcat in Missouri. The project studies the movement patterns of bobcats in Northeast Missouri using a tracking system called manual VHF telemetry. In this system, each captured cat is fitted with a radio collar which transmits signals to a receiver. By attaching an antenna to the receiver, the researchers can observe the specific directions of the bobcats. Using this telemetry software, Petry and his team can identify the animals’ locations and correlate them with previous locations, habitat variables, and proximity to other bobcats.

Petry’s motivation for the project stems from his personal interest in conservation biology, especially with carnivores, his previous work in ocelot research in the Panamanian rainforests, and his love of the great outdoors.

“When I came to Truman, my real motivation was in finding a balance between the outdoors and academics,” Petry said. “I knew I couldn’t be a classroom junkie all day.”

When the Missouri Department of Conservation recently opened a statewide hunting and trapping season for bobcats for the first time in more than 30 years, Petry decided to launch the project.

The research team continues to gather data on the bobcats. They hope to identify how far the bobcats travel, what habitat they use, and the causes for their movement. According to the project’s Web site, these factors are important because a minimal amount of information on the habitat use and home-range size of bobcats in highly agricultural settings is currently available. Petry and the research team also seek to explore the debate of bobcat sustainability in Northeast Missouri and help to create a larger and more accurate picture of large cat patterns throughout the Midwest region.

Petry and his team hope to continue the study indefinitely. However, funds are extremely tight right now. Those interested in learning more about the project should visit the study’s Web site at to check out more detailed information about the project and several photographs of the bobcat capture process.

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