CAPE ROMAIN — Spotting an elusive bobcat might be easier these days on the remote barrier islands north of Charleston.

The population has been increasing since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, said Sarah Dawsey, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge manager.

Biologists don’t know why, but they suspect it has to do with the dramatic habitat change. The storm overwashed the refuge islands and tore them to shreds.

The last wolves were pulled from the former breeding colony on Bull’s Island in 2005, and the bobcat became the apex predator.

Then the wild turkey flock — already depleting in the ravished habitat — disappeared altogether.

The bobcats’ takeover “was certainly a factor,” Dawsey said. “They weren’t doing well and then the bobcat came in.”

Biologists don’t see as many rabbits as they once did, either. But rabbits are game for any number of other animals.

Overall the increase in bobcats doesn’t seem to be disrupting the ecosystem, Dawsey said.

“We’re glad to have them in the refuge. They’re native, and it’s a good thing.”

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