The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University are conducting a three year research project to track the bobcat in eight Iowa counties Iowa. D-N-R research biologist Todd Gosselink says the research will continue a pilot project that started in south-central Iowa. He says they’re trying to get some information on where the bobcats are found in Iowa, how many there are, what type of habitat they like, how far they move. Gosselink says they need more information to be able to manage the bobcats in the state. He says they’re a protected species and he says they don’t know much about them other than people are starting to catch them more often while trying to catch other animals. He says bobcats have flourished recently — particularly in Marion, Warren, Clarke, Lucas, Monroe Decatur, Wayne and Appanoose counties. He says they were an endangered species in 1977 and have slowly built their population. He says the population has really expanded in the last five years. Gosselink says they’re asking the public to help in the study. He says they’re asking people to report any sightings and anyone who catches a bobcat is asked to call the D-N-R. Gosselink says they’ll use some special methods to keep track of the animals. He says they’ll put radio and G-P-S collars on the bobcats and track their movement. Gosselink says they have been able to study some 32 bobcats that’ve been killed on roadways in the past few years. He says the females averaged about 18 pounds, while the males average about 24 pounds, with the largest male at 29 pounds. He says they prefer brushy areas and eat primarily rabbitts, squirrels and mice. Gosselink says the bobcats appear to come out in the early evening. There are four public meetings to discuss the research project. The meetings are Oct. 7, at the Warren County Conservation Board’s Annett Nature Center, 1555 188th Ave., Indianola; Oct. 9, at the Weldon Community Center, Hwy. J12, Weldon; Oct. 14, at the Lucas County Conservation Board’s Pin Oak Lodge Nature Center, 54996 Hwy. 14, Chariton; and Oct. 16, at the Appanoose County Conservation Board’s Center 2000 Nature Center, 25100 520th St., Centerville. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.