GLADSTONE, N.J. — Celebrating three years of supporting Monmouth at the Team, presented by Precise Buildings, The Nature Conservancy returns to sponsor the Second Annual $10,000 Bobcat Derby Day, Thursday, Aug. 16. The popular boutique hunter/jumper horse show runs Aug.12 to 20 at historic Hamilton Farm, the headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation.

Since the late 1950s, The Nature Conservancy has been working to protect New Jersey’s land, freshwater resources and coastal habitats. The membership-funded 401c3 nonprofit organization sponsors the Bobcat Derby as a way to raise awareness of their work, including a current key land protection initiative in the Garden State: a 32,000-acre forested corridor where New Jersey’s last remaining wild felines, bobcats, can thrive.

The Nature Conservancy’s New Jersey chapter, based out of Chester, N.J., will have a table on-site for the duration of the Monmouth at the Team event, where guests can learn more about bobcat conservation efforts, collect free swag, enter to win prizes and experience bobcat habitats via virtual reality. On Bobcat Derby Day, riders can don bobcat ears for an extra point in the competition; winners in each height division will receive bobcat-spotted championship coolers and plush bobcat puppets, and the top 24 finishers will receive custom Nature Conservancy C4 belts. The Conservancy will also host a themed photo booth for guests during the afternoon and serve up complimentary gourmet “Bobcat Spots” ice cream in the evening.

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Bobcats went virtually extinct in New Jersey in the 1970s, and conservation groups reintroduced a small number of cats in the 1980s to restore ecosystem balance (bobcats help keep rodent populations under control). The species has established a tenuous foothold, but remains under a struggling state-endangered status. Car impacts continue to be the chief cause of bobcat mortality in New Jersey, since the cats travel an average of seven miles per day to feed, rest and reproduce.

The Nature Conservancy is working to protect and connect a mosaic of land parcels to create “Bobcat Alley,” in Warren and Sussex counties, a greenway that transitions to additional protected lands in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

“The bobcat is not only an iconic American mammal, but with their shy and elusive tendencies they are also one of the last truly wild animals in New Jersey,” said Eric Olsen, director of land programs for The Nature Conservancy’s New Jersey Chapter. “It is not only an ecological imperative, but also a matter of famous New Jersey state pride to protect these cats here.”

See www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/newjersey/index.htm for more information about The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey and Bobcat Alley.

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