Rural County Wants Its Bobcats Protected From Trapping

Mono County Supervisors want all their bobcats to relax like this. | Photo: Matt Knoth/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Backers of an end to bobcat trapping in California got some indirect support from one of the state's most rural counties.

Under the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013, which was signed into law in October of that year, the California Fish and Game Commission is charged with mapping zones in the state inside which no trapping of bobcats is allowed. The intent was to establish a series of buffer zones around parks and wildlife refuges similar to the one the law itself designated surrounding Joshua Tree National Park. But at its regular meeting in December 2014, the Commission agreed to consider a designating the entire state as a no-trapping zone.

That prospect, still under discussion by Fish and Game Commissioners, has prompted support and opposition from the usual camps. But on April 7, the Supervisors of thoroughly rural Mono County sent a formal letter to the Commission urging it to ban bobcat trapping throughout the entire county -- at least for now.


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Before the Bobcat Protection Act (a.k.a. AB 1213) passed in 2013, the only real limitation on bobcat trapping in California was an annual bag limit of 14,000 cats trapped per year during the trapping season, which runs November 24 through January 31. That 14,000 figure was based on bobcat population estimates last updated in the 1970s, and the science behind that 40-year-old estimate has been strongly criticized.

When signing the Act in October 2013, Governor Jerry Brown directed the legislature to come up with funding for a newer population survey for bobcats in the state, so that any subsequent trapping limits can be based on science younger than the Carter administration.

In the meantime, though, if the Fish and Game Commission doesn't decide on a statewide ban, next November's season will be another with a statewide bag limit based on how many bobcats were in California in 1975. And that, say the Mono County Supervisors in their note to the Commission, has them worried.The Mono Supervisors have thus asked the Commission to set their 1,209-square-mile entire county aside as a no-trapping protected zone until that statewide population survey is complete. From the Supervisors' letter:

If the Commission can't grant that request, say the Supervisors, then they ask that:

Given that Mono County is essentially chock full of State and National parks (including the east side of Yosemite) and scenic resources, along with the 185-square-mile Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, that's a whole lot of area closed to trappers even if the whole county isn't designated off-limits.The Mono Supervisors explain their request succinctly:

Mono County Supervisors will have a chance to weigh in in person at the Commission meeting where a final decision is expected: that meeting, in June, will be held in the Mono County resort community of Mammoth Lakes.

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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