UBC Okanagan researcher TJ Goodliaff is looking for pictures of lynx and bobcats from the Cariboo Chilcotin to determine what role climate change is playing in the cat’s distribution across the province.

UBC Okanagan researcher TJ Goodliaff is looking for pictures of lynx and bobcats from the Cariboo Chilcotin to determine what role climate change is playing in the cat’s distribution across the province.

Researcher looks for clues in provincial cat distribution

A UBC Okanagan researcher is appealing to the public for photos of bobcats and lynx from anywhere in B.C.

  • Feb. 11, 2016 5:00 a.m.

A UBC Okanagan researcher is appealing to the public for photos of bobcats and lynx from anywhere in B.C.

“I am using photos of bobcats and lynx submitted by the public to help map the current provincial distribution of both species to determine if their ranges have shifted in response to climate change,” said TJ Gooliaff,  masters of science candidate at UBCO.

Gooliaff is working on the project in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment, he said.

“I’m trying to figure out exactly where the northern limit is for bobcats. I suspect it is somewhere between Williams Lake and Prince George. I just need more photos to figure that out.”

Gooliaff said he hypothesizes that bobcats have moved northwards and into higher elevations as a result of climate change.

Historically, bobcats and lynx have been typically separated by snow depth. Goodiaff explains.

Lynx have extremely long legs and large snowshoe-like paws, making them well adapted for travelling across deep snow.

They are found in the boreal forests across Canada and Alaska, as well as the mountain ranges extending south into Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

In contrast, bobcats are heavier, have small feet, and sink into the snow.

They are found throughout the deserts and grasslands of the  United States, as well as southern Canada.

However, climate change has led to earlier springs and lower snow levels in western North America.

As a result, suitable bobcat habitat may now be present in new areas of B.C.

The photos do not have to be great photography — they just have to show a bobcat or a lynx, or even just a part of one, Gooliaff said.

Photos can be blurry or dark and don’t even have to clearly show which cat species is present.

When sending photos, please include both the date and location of each photo. Location should be as specific as possible: most preferred is UTM or LAT/LONG coordinates.

If that information is not available, then please provide the name of the nearest road or landmark (including distance and direction from road or landmark), or nearest town (including distance and direction from town), or watershed or Management Unit.

Photos will be used for data only (which species was where when) and will not influence management decisions regarding hunting/trapping bag limits or season dates.

Photos will not be published or shared with anyone without permission, and photographers will retain ownership of their photos.

The results of this study will be gladly shared with all those who are interested.

People are asked to e-mail photos or direct any questions to tj.gooliaff@ubc.ca or Dr. Karen Hodges at karen.hodges@ubc.ca.

Williams Lake Tribune