By Roland Hoffman for The Island Connection
Earlier this week, we were informed of a denning bobcat on the Kiawah Conservancy’s preserved property at Ocean Course Drive (the Ocean Course Drive Nature Area). This den, containing two bobcat kittens, is welcome news amidst serious concerns about the declining bobcat population.
However, while checking on the den site, Town Biologists noticed pruning and vegetative removal occurring near the den. This work disturbed the denning site and caused the female to abandon the site. It is our hope that she took her kittens with her and established another den nearby.
It was also noted that other nearby portions of the preserved property had been cleared of vegetation. This vegetative clearing caused a significant negative impact to the natural habitat and conservation values within the preserved property. The Conservancy is aware of this issue and is continuing to review and monitor the status of the area.
Selective pruning of natural vegetation in habitats used by bobcats can be beneficial to their reproductive success.
However, this type of land management must be done carefully with minimal impact to natural habitat and wildlife.
The denning season for bobcats starts in the spring and runs through the summer months. Disturbances within natural habitats for bobcats should be avoided during this timeframe and is recommended to occur within the winter months.
The Conservancy did not permit this pruning and significant vegetation removal. These actions are in direct violation of the restrictions placed on the preserved property. Under the terms outlined for the preserved property, the Conservancy and the Architectural Review Board (ARB) must be notified of any and all actions taken on the property that could potentially impact its conservation value. In this instance, the guidelines were not followed and conservation values were negatively impacted.
Once made aware of the situation, the Conservancy requested that work stop immediately and is contacting individual violators to discuss retribution for damages to the preserved areas. In addition, the Conservancy will continue to contact all property owners who live near preserved properties to ensure they understand regulations and restrictions as they pertain to those properties.
We encourage property owners living nearby or visiting our preserved properties to contact us with any questionable actions or concerns you may notice on our properties. Although we monitor our properties regularly, we cannot be there all of the time. Your help is crucial to ensuring conservation success!