Tracking Cats – Unanswered Questions

Tracking Cats Unanswered Questions

Kelly: This has got 93 pictures, 76 per cent batteries. That’s great. I’m going to turn it off.

We’re in a Virginia forest setting up remote cameras to track bobcats. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Like many techniques in science, it often raises more questions than answers.

Kelly: We’ve gotten pictures of bobcats. They’re much more difficult to get photographs of, but we have several times gotten a mother and her cub or her kit.

Marcella Kelly is a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. She’s used remote cameras to track big cats around the world.

Kelly: I still remember going developing the film from the first ever survey of jaguars in Belize and I thought this technique was dumb and it wasn’t going to work. And then I developed the first roll of film and we had five jaguars at one camera station, four of which were male and one was female. I was completely shocked and I thought this is impossible.
We thought that these animals were highly territorial and there should only be one. So getting five at that first camera check made me feel like, we don’t really know much about these animals at all. I thought that they were territorial. What’s going on here with these five different individuals?
It seems like we just keep coming up with more questions. For example, why do some of the study sites have predominantly male animals, whereas other study sites don’t? Why do some of our study sites have females that seemingly keep reproducing and their young stay in a study site, whereas other study sites we rarely see a female reproduce and then we never see the young again. What is going on? Is there something about particular study sites that we just don’t understand? Where do the cubs go? Things like that that are really interesting.

Along with remote cameras, scat samples and GPS collars are enabling scientists to answer these questions and ultimately, to help big cats survive. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Tracking Cats - Unanswered Questions

"I was completely shocked and thought, 'This is impossible!'"
Air Date:03/31/2017
Scientist:
Transcript:

Tracking Cats Unanswered Questions

Kelly: This has got 93 pictures, 76 per cent batteries. That's great. I'm going to turn it off.

We're in a Virginia forest setting up remote cameras to track bobcats. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Like many techniques in science, it often raises more questions than answers.

Kelly: We've gotten pictures of bobcats. They're much more difficult to get photographs of, but we have several times gotten a mother and her cub or her kit.

Marcella Kelly is a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. She's used remote cameras to track big cats around the world.

Kelly: I still remember going developing the film from the first ever survey of jaguars in Belize and I thought this technique was dumb and it wasn't going to work. And then I developed the first roll of film and we had five jaguars at one camera station, four of which were male and one was female. I was completely shocked and I thought this is impossible.
We thought that these animals were highly territorial and there should only be one. So getting five at that first camera check made me feel like, we don't really know much about these animals at all. I thought that they were territorial. What's going on here with these five different individuals?
It seems like we just keep coming up with more questions. For example, why do some of the study sites have predominantly male animals, whereas other study sites don't? Why do some of our study sites have females that seemingly keep reproducing and their young stay in a study site, whereas other study sites we rarely see a female reproduce and then we never see the young again. What is going on? Is there something about particular study sites that we just don't understand? Where do the cubs go? Things like that that are really interesting.

Along with remote cameras, scat samples and GPS collars are enabling scientists to answer these questions and ultimately, to help big cats survive. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.