Bobcat (Lynx rufus) populations in the Midwestern United States experienced historic declines due to habitat loss and exploitation but have rebounded in recent decades. We investigated natal dispersal of juvenile bobcats from a population in south-central Indiana, USA, from 1999 to 2006. We radiocollared 16 juvenile bobcats (11 M, 5 F) and monitored them for 237–1,014 days (x¯ = 506). One female (20%) and 11 males (100%) dispersed from natal home ranges that averaged 14.6 km2 in size. Most juveniles (70%) initiated dispersal from mid-February through March, late in their first year. Only 5 bobcats (42%) ultimately established a final home range 63 ± 35 km2 in size 13–92 km (x¯ = 44) from their natal range 140 ± 45 days after initiating dispersal. Survival did not differ (P = 0.93) between dispersing (S = 0.73) and philopatric (S = 0.75) individuals, although 4 bobcats (3 M, 1 F) were killed in collisions with vehicles. We found dispersal of bobcats in fragmented landscapes is prolonged and often unsuccessful; the ability of dispersers to locate suitable vacant habitat patches may be vital to the continued growth of bobcat populations recolonizing the agricultural Midwest.
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Vol. 74 • No. 3