Here in Arkansas, you can find many different critters that roam around. Some of these critters you can even find here at Turpentine in different habitats. Black Bears, Cougars, and Bobcats can all be found in the woods around Arkansas.
Arkansas used to have black bears living all over the state back in the 19th century. Arkansas used to be known as the Bear State with thousands of bears. People overhunting these animals for their pelts, oils, and fats, knocked the population down to about 50 bears in 1927. In the 1950s, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked on a relocation program with Manitoba, Canada, and Minnesota. They were able to bring back a total of 254 bears. Now the population is at about 3,000. Black Bears are omnivore animals. This means they eat both plants and meat but about 90% of their diet consists of plant material while 10% of it is protein. They are great foragers, finding berries and roots. They will also eat fish and other small mammals. In order to find food that most other animals can’t get to, these creatures are excellent climbers. They can find their food in the tops of the trees but it also helps them get away from danger.
Cougars used to be found throughout North America but due to overhunting and poaching, they are becoming less common throughout the country and the state than they should be. These cats are apex predators which means they are at the top of the food chain. They are extremely important to the ecosystem by keeping a lot of creatures in check that help serve purposes in our everyday life. Cougars love to hunt deer which is their main food source of 60-80%. They are able to help keep the deer population in check which in turn helps with the agricultural side of things due to less deer grazing and eating a farmer’s crop. They also enjoy hunting and eating other critters like raccoons, coyotes, rabbits, and skunks. In order to be able to hunt these things, they use their ability to jump. The cats are able to jump 20 feet up in the air vertically and then about 40 feet straight out horizontally.
Bobcats are the most common cat found in North America. They are named for the short bobbed tail that they flick around constantly. Normally these creatures are harder to see out in the wild due to them being more nocturnal. They enjoy hunting at dawn and at dusk. Bobcats are mesopredators which means they are more in the middle of the food chain. Their diet consists of snakes, birds, lizards, rodents, and small deer. The majority of their diet does consist of rodents and they are great at keeping the rodent population down which in turn helps us with disease control and other rodent-caused issues.
There are several issues that these wild animals encounter. With any wild animal these days, there is going to be an issue with habitat loss. There is more and more construction invading the wild wooded area to build housing developments and businesses.
People also overhunt and poach these animals to bring them to the term of close extinction from an area. As mentioned earlier, black bears in Arkansas almost disappeared as we know it due to people wanting their pelts, fat, and oil to sell. The same goes with the other 2 wild animals we have mentioned today as well. People hunt these animals in order to get their pelts and sale the on the black market trade.
Poisoning these animals also has gotten out of hand. Now a lot of people don’t mean to be poisoning cougars, bobcats, or bears but it is done through other critters. Rat and mice poisoning is put out in order to get rid of any little pests that are around and as these rodents ingest that poison there is a chance of them affecting other creatures. Any animal that comes along and then eats that rodent that has just eaten the poison now has the poison in their system which will cause issues with them, potentially even death.
What can you do?
There are many different things you can do in order to help protect these animals from danger or even yourselves. If you put out any rodent poison, try an alternative method by using different types of traps like live traps. These save the rodents and the animals that eat the rodents.
Also, be respectful of these animals. If you are out and about in the wooded area, make sure you are practicing your safety procedures. Look out for any signs of these animals like scratches on the trees, tracks, or even scat around the path. Never sneak up on any of these animals, they will take it as a threat and your life ends up in danger. If you do end up seeing one of these magnificent creatures in the wild, please keep your distance from them. NEVER approach these animals or get close to them. If you want to take a picture, please do so from that distance by using a telescopic photo lens.
Remember what we always say, the animals always end up paying the price. If you want to learn more about the different animals, please feel free to visit our website where you can check out different facts on these animals and what exactly you might need to do in case of a close scary encounter.