My friend was bear hunting last week, deep in the woods, when he came across something he had never seen before in New Jersey.

He has hunted all over the state and had heard we had bobcats, but in all of his 40 years of hanging out in the woods, had never seen one.

Last Monday he came face to face with one and managed to get a quick video. They are very elusive and rarely seen, unless you're hanging out in the woods, stationary for a long time.

Originally, bobcats were widespread in New Jersey. Like in other states, bobcats used to be present in every county, then came human development that disrupted most of their dens, and bobcat hunting lessened their population dramatically.

Early settlers killed and trapped them for their fur, and land use patterns changed in ways detrimental to bobcats.

Photo via Anita Elder Design

The tremendous deforestation for agriculture and the production of lumber, fuel, and charcoal that took place in the state was the worst blow to the formerly large population.
By the early 1970s, it was believed that bobcats had gone extinct in the state altogether.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, there were sporadic reports of bobcats being killed on highways, and in June 1991, the species was officially categorized as endangered in New Jersey.

Then between 1978 and 1982, twenty-four bobcats were captured in Maine and reintroduced in northern New Jersey as part of a restoration experiment run by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Since that experimental repopulation occurred bobcat sightings began to increase by the early 1990's. Unfortunately, the number of bobcats killed on the road has increased as well.

Photo via Alexander Milanese

They are nocturnal and elusive, and humans are more of a threat to them than they are to us. At one time they could be found all over the state, but now are confined to a few northern counties.

My friend captured this video deep in the woods in Sussex County.

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Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

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