According to Maria Grace of the nonprofit Conserve Wildlife New Jersey, 82 animal species are endangered in New Jersey. Lana Glisic, now at the John Witherspoon Middle School, wants you to know about one in particular: the elusive bobcat that is found in the northwestern part of the state.
Lana’s artwork and essay is the Mercer County winner of Conserve Wildlife New Jersey’s annual statewide Species on the Edge Art and Essay Contest. Lana was a fifth grader at Riverside Elementary School last year when her teacher Amanda Nichols suggested participation in the contest. Her bobcat along with other fifth grade drawings is being exhibited by the D&R Greenway Land Trust.
For her entry, Lana researched the habits and habitat of the bobcat as a wildlife biologist would. She wrote her attention-grabbing essay from the animal’s perspective: “Greetings. I am the bobcat, or Lynx rufus. I live in the beautiful, green forests of New Jersey. You can recognize me by my yellow-green eyes, tufted ear-tips, golden-brown fur and black, spotted tabby markings. We are named after our short, ‘bobbed’ tails. Cats like me can range from a yellow to a reddish-brown, too, and with stripes or spots. I hunt muskrats, mice, squirrels, insects, birds, and rabbits for my meals. Sometimes, sick or dead deer can become our food, also. My species, though, is in danger.”
“Lana loves all animals but especially cats,” said her mother, Tanja Glisic, originally from Croatia. “Lana was born in Switzerland and her first language is Italian, so I am very proud that she is now as fluent in English as a native speaker of the language.”
An only child, Lana came to Princeton with her parents in 2009. According to her mother, she is an avid writer who loves drawing and creating her own comic book-style cartoons.
“Bobcats are a popular subject for young artists but they are not easy to draw and require a lot of attention to detail. Lana did an excellent job,” commented Ms. Grace, Conserve Wildlife’s education and outreach manager.
Created in 1998, the organization works to protect and preserve rare and imperiled species that live, breed, and migrate through New Jersey. In addition to research on these species, the nonprofit restores habitat, and educates and engages citizens.
Its annual statewide competition is designed to call attention to the urgency of preserving New Jersey’s wildlife, especially among the young.
Some 2,000 entries were received and judged “with a slight emphasis on the artwork over the essay, but both are important,” said Ms. Grace. A winner is chosen from each county in the state.
The endangered list for New Jersey includes the bald eagle during the breeding season from January through July, barred owls, turtles, both sea and bog varieties, and bobcats. As Lana’s essay points out, hunting and habitat depletion have reduced the state’s number of these “fascinating felines.” She urges action before they are gone forever.
Teachers who want to participate in the contest, can download a kit from the Conserve Wildlife NJ website in October. Submissions must be sent by January 31. For more information, visit: www.conservewildlifenj.org.