In this business, it’s always nice when legends are finally proven to be realities. That was the case recently in Georgia when a motion sensor camera confirmed the existence of the long-rumored bobcat on Jekyll Island.
Up until now, the only evidence of bobcats ever living on Jekyll Island, one of Georgia’s coastal barrier islands known as both a Sea Island and a Golden Isle, was a photograph dating back to the early 1900s of bobcat pelts hanging on the wall of a gamekeeper’s cabin. First inhabited by a Native American chiefdom known as the Guale and later by Muskogian tribes, it was claimed by Spain in 1510 (Juan Ponce de Leon was an early governor) and named Jekyll Island (for Sir Joseph Jekyll) after the British made Georgia a colony in 1733. The state of Georgia bought the island in 1947 and made it a state park. For you X-Man fans, in “X-Men First Class” Jekyll Island served as the backdrop for Muir island.
Park rangers have received infrequent reports of bobcat sightings but no evidence of any kind has ever been found. In September 2014, the Jekyll Island Authority set up motion sensor cameras to conduct a whitetail deer census. On two separate occasions, two weeks apart and in different parts of the island, cameras photographed a bobcat. It’s believed to be the same cat in both photographs, according to conservation director Ben Carswell.
It’s the first definite, confirmed documentation of a bobcat on the island ever. We have no way to be sure whether this animal showed up recently on Jekyll. They’re such secretive animals; it could be this one and others have been out here for some time.
No other sightings have been reported but Jekyll Island wildlife authorities are hoping there are at least a few bobcats to help them control the ever-growing whitetail population. Bobcats were believed to have lived on the island until being wiped out by hunters in the early 20th century. This one most likely swam from the Georgia mainland across a march or possibly ran there via the five-mile causeway.
Whatever the reason, it’s always a cause for celebration to see live big cats instead of pelts.