Bobcats are still trapped throughout California, and their pelts are sold in the international fur trade market. Recent spikes in demand from countries like Russia and China have increased prices for bobcat pelts, resulting in a boom in bobcat trapping throughout the State of California.
On October 11, 2013, the Governor approved the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 (AB1213), which directs the California Fish and Game Commission to increase bobcat protections, and now the Commission is considering two options for bobcat trapping restrictions: Option 1 proposes a partial closure of the state to bobcat trapping by establishing closure boundaries around protected areas; and Option 2, which EPIC supports, would implement a complete ban on commercial trapping of bobcats throughout California.
The Commission is slated to make a decision to adopt new bobcat trapping regulations at their August 5th hearing, which will be held at 8 a.m. at the River Lodge at 1800 Riverwalk Drive in Fortuna California. EPIC will join bobcat advocates from around the state to rally for the protection of bobcats at 7:30 a.m. before the hearing. Two days before the hearing, on Monday, August 3rd from 6-8 p.m., EPIC and our allies will host a teach-in and poster making session in the Arts & Crafts Room at the Arcata Community Center at 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
The trapping industry has openly opposed the state wide ban, and will likely send a spokesperson to speak at the August 5th hearing in favor of bobcat trapping. This is why it is important for bobcat allies to make a presence and show the Fish and Game Commission that the overwhelming majority of people are in favor of a statewide ban.
The law on the books allows bobcat trapping season to take place between November 24 and January 31, and anyone possessing an easy-to-obtain trappers’ license can trap as many bobcats as desired until a statewide total of 14,400 bobcats are killed for the season. The nearly unrestricted statewide cap is based on out of date population estimates from the 1970’s of 72,000 individuals. This baseline number is deeply troublesome. Over thirty years ago, in 1982, a court found that the science behind the 1970’s population estimate was too flawed to qualify as the basis for a bobcat management program. Yet, no additional surveys have been conducted since.
Bobcats are shy creatures that do not threaten public safety, and while no one knows what the current bobcat populations are, there is anecdotal evidence that trapping has greatly diminished localized bobcat populations, throwing ecosystems off kilter. In fact, the state legislature recognized that bobcats are important apex predators that play a significant role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, reducing rodent populations and preying on populations of many animals that are considered “nuisance” animals such as raccoons, opossums and skunks. Bobcat trapping hurts more than bobcats; it hurts our forests and fragile ecosystems.
In addition to protecting bobcats for ecological reasons, there is a moral obligation to end the cruel and inhumane methods of killing bobcats. Because their pelts are worth more without bullet holes or other marks, trappers often strangle, stomp or bludgeon them to death. California should lead the nation and outlaw this cruel and harmful practice.
The Fish and Game Commission will be accepting public testimony on this matter at their May 5th hearing in Fortuna, and bobcats need you to speak up for them! The last time wildlife supporters banded together and attended a Fish and Game Commission hearing in Fortuna, we helped sway the Commission to protect gray wolves in California and with your help, we can do this again for the bobcats! Visit wildcalifornia.org to sign our action alert and learn how you can get involved. Last year we rallied for the wolves, this year join us to speak up for the bobcats!
August 3rd, 6-8 p.m.—Teach-In & poster making night at the Arcata Community Center crafts room, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
August 5th, 7:30 a.m.—Rally & Hearing at the Fish and Game Commission Hearing at the River Lodge at 1800 Riverwalk Drive in Fortuna.