January 14, 2007

Top Twelve Black Bobcat Hot Spots

UPDATED: January 14, 2007.

Black Bobcat

Photograph of a cryptid black felid taken late in 2005 in Florida, by a Georgia professor (credit Ben Willis) that probably is a melanistic bobcat (Lynx rufus floridianus).

Based on one of yesterday’s melanistic bobcat blog comments, here are my promised suggestions for the hot spots to go observe these black felids.

Top Twelve Locations To See Black Bobcats

1-10. South Florida.

Martin Co FL 2

If there’s one place that has produced the most melanistic bobcats, it would be this south central east Florida coast county that lies next to the Okeechobee Swamp region, specifically, Martin County, Florida. Ten black bobcats have been documented in southern Florida, six since 1970. In the early days, most of these were from Martin County.

Update: Here’s more about the mystery photograph (above) from 2005. As noted here, it was taken in Martin County, Florida.

Okeechobee Region Map

Click on map for full size version

Zoologist Fred A. Ulmer, Jr. wrote "Melanism in the Felidae, with Special Reference to the Genus Lynx" in the Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 22, No. 3, August 1941, pp. 285-288. Ulmer noted that on April 18, 1939, Vincent Nelson and J. Townsend Sackett live-trapped a black male Florida bobcat (Lynx rufus floridianus) in Martin County, Florida, 14 miles above the mouth of the Loxahatchee River. An experienced trapper, Nelson had not previously seen a melanistic bobcat.

A black bobcat obtained by Sackett for the Zoological Society of Philadelphia was exhibited at their zoo from late April through to August 3, 1939, before it died. Its skin and skull went to the collection of the Acadamy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (specimen no 19842).

In January 1940, Nelson live-trapped another melanistic female bobcat in the same region. Famed herper Raymond L. Ditmars obtained the melanistic female for the Bronx Zoo. This one was caught about two miles from where the first specimen was obtained, in swampy jungle close to the confluence of Kitchen Creek and Loxahatchee (or Jupiter) River.

On this specific 1990 map, the locations within southern Florida where melanistic bobcat have been found are noted; source for pdf, here. The numbers 1 and 2 are from 1939-1940 – Martin County.

Florida Black Bobcat Distribution

Click on image for full size version

11. New Brunswick, Canada.

One black bobcat was discovered and taken in New Brunswick in the early 1990s.

12. South Louisiana.

There is a rumored record of a black bobcat being obtained in Louisiana in the 1940s.


Thanks to Ben Willis, Sarah Hartwell, and Bob Pickett for various components of this data.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

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