At Haliburton Forest we are conducting wildlife monitoring research, to learn what species of wildlife are using the forest, and in which areas. We are particularly interested in learning whether wild cats (lynx and bobcats) live in our forest, and where. This winter, our researchers have been using several methods to try and gather evidence of the existence of these elusive cats in Haliburton Forest.
The first method being used is to place ‘bait piles’ in locations of the forest where bobcats and lynx might be expected to exist, with game cameras pointed at them. The researchers also left trails of artificial bobcat urine leading away from the piles and off into the forest.
So far there have been no picture of wild cats, but one of the bait piles was visited by these two bald eagles! The white-headed bird is an adult, and the brown-headed bird is a juvenile. Bald eagles live near water, and primarily eat fish during the summer and
small mammals in the winter. As is the case in this picture, they are also known to be scavengers. Their populations crashed in the mid 20th century because of the use of pesticides (especially DDT), but these poisonous chemicals were banned and bald eagle populations are now steadily increasing.
Stay tuned for more updates on the project, and for more pictures from our cameras!
The second method the researchers will use to try to find evidence of wild cats is to go out during the winter on snowmobiles to look for footprints in the snow. If they find prints, they will set up a network of ‘rub pads’ in the area. Rub pads are rough carpet squares attached to the base of a tree and scented with catnip and beaver oil. When the bobcats or lynx smell the rub pads they rub their faces on them just like a house cat does, and leave hairs in the carpet. We can then use these hairs to identify the species it came from using DNA analyses.