These three species—with some help from humans—have beaten the odds. Conservation efforts such as reforestation, habitat protection, and improvements to water quality are paying off big time.
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
Eradicated from the state by 1850, these solitary, elusive cats began to repopulate the state in the mid-1900s, as forests began to recover. Sightings have been on a swift rise since 2017, with more than 500 in 2020. The most confirmed sightings in our region have occurred in Butler and Hamilton counties. Bobcats have been caught on trail cameras at Fernald Preserve, in Crosby Township, for years.
Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
These birds, which once inhabited the entire state of Ohio, disappeared in 1904, after much of their forested habitat was converted to cropland and because they were hunted for food or sport. Numbers have rebounded and in 2022 there were an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 wild turkeys in the state. Kentucky, meanwhile, has seen its population stabilize after hunters reported a peak harvest of 36,000 wild turkeys in 2010. The state estimates that the total population is anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000—a stunning comeback, considering that in 1978, the population hovered around just 2,000 birds.
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
In 1963, just 417 pairs of bald eagles were believed to live in the United States, but a series of actions by the U.S. government, including banning the use of the insecticide DDT, passing the Clean Water Act, and creating protections for the birds helped them make a strong recovery. A 2021 count estimated roughly 71,500 breeding pairs now exist in the country. In Ohio, there are reports of nests in almost every county, including Butler, Warren, Clermont, and Hamilton. The Bortz Family Nature Preserve has had a live camera on a nest that has had chicks in it two years running. And in Kentucky, the raptors are doing so well, the state’s department of fish and wildlife has told residents it’s no longer necessary to report sightings.