Northern Counties Opposing Ban on Bobcat Trapping

A bobcat in Marin County | Photo: Len Blumin/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The state commission that regulates hunting and trapping in California is considering a complete ban on bobcat trapping in the state, but two Northern California counties have a problem with that.

The California Fish and Game Commission has been considering banning all bobcat trapping in the state as a way of implementing a law, the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 or AB1213, which obligates the Commission to establish buffer zones around national and state parks and wildlife sanctuaries where bobcat trapping wouldn't be allowed.

But during its regular meeting in early December 2014, the Commission discussed the possibility of making those buffer zones as large as possible to encompass the entire state of California. A decision on that proposal is expected by this summer, and advocates of bobcat trapping aren't pleased.


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According to reporter David Smith in the Siskiyou Daily News, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has sent a letter to the Fish and Game Commission urging the Commission not to extend AB1213's ban on bobcat trapping statewide. The letter charges the Commission with overstepping its bounds in considering a statewide ban.

"It appears that a recent effort coming before the [Commission] in their implementation [of] AB 1213," reads the Supervisors' letter to the Commission, "is not only running afoul of the only practical way to manage bobcats (trapping), but is flying in the face of the legislative history, intent and language, not to mention the Governor's clearly articulated direction when he signed the bill into law."

The county in far northern California joins Humboldt County and the California Trappers' Association in opposing a statewide ban.

As we reported in 2013, previous regulations on the books governing trapping of bobcats were nearly indefensible from a scientific viewpoint. The nearly unrestricted bobcat trapping season ran from November 24 through January 31, and any Californian in possession of an easily obtained trappers' license could trap as many cats as he or she desired until a statewide total of 14,400 bobcats was reached for the season.

That statewide cap was based on the state's total estimated population of bobcats in the 1970s. A court found in 1982 that the science behind the late 1970s population estimate was flawed enough to be unsuitable as the basis for a bobcat management program. No surveys have been conducted since to get a better handle on the bobcat population in California, or even to find out whether the medium-sized predators are gaining or losing ground in the state.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, bobcat trappers and hunters took an estimated 1,639 cats in the 2013-14 season. Though that was an increase over the previous year, it was down substantially from the 1,813 cats taken in the 2011-12 season, the largest take of California bobcats in two decades.

Global fashion is driving the surge in bobcat trapping, as increased demand for cat furs from species not protected by international conservation laws has spiked the price for bobcat skins. In the 2013-14 season, pelt prices averaged $390.

It's that "harvest" of wild animals for personal profit in a volatile market that has fans of the wild cats pushing for a complete statewide ban. "It's important to end bobcat trapping statewide in order to end the wanton taking, by a few individuals, of natural resources that belong to all Californians," wildlife activist Miriam Seger of Joshua Tree told KCET.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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