Good news for bobcats, bad news for rodents.
It began in early 2013 -- a flurry of outrage when residents living just on the edge Joshua Tree National Park found traps illegally placed on their property, some within just one mile of the park. Concern over the Joshua tree reports grew and eventually prompted the California Legislature to pass AB1213, the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 -- essentially tasking California Fish and Game Commission with establishing buffer zones around state and national parks, as well as other wildlife areas where bobcat trapping would be prohibited. In a recent August 5th LA Times article by reporter Louis Sahagan, “California bans trapping of bobcats amid protests over cruelty,” the author of the bobcat act, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D), was quoted to say that the vote “demonstrated a growing awareness about how we treat native wildlife in California….There’s a big difference, for example, between hunting a game animal and taking home to eat it, and trapping an animal for commercial purposes and doing it in a way that causes a long painful death.” Opponents of its passage pointed to the lack of sufficient impact and population studies, which the state was tasked with doing after the act was passed. The most current survey of bobcat populations in the state was completed in 1979, and to date, the state has yet to conduct the newly required survey.
Terrified and waiting to be killed. So sad.
On Wednesday, August 5, 2015 the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) voted 3 to 2 to uphold and implement a statewide ban on all commercial bobcat trapping, amidst a statewide “Ban the Trap,” campaign and mounting public pressure. Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the Center of Biological Diversity, a national organization involved in the passage of this legislation, stated in the same LA Times article that “today, California stepped into the 21st century of wildlife management…We place a higher value on native wildlife alive, rather than as dead commodities.”
The vote took place under heavy resistance from the California Trappers Association and some within the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who say that there is not enough information on the effect trapping and hunting has on wild bobcat populations in the state, and that this decision destroys the trapping industry in the state without cause. Hector Barajas, spokesperson for the California Trappers Association (CTA), stated that the August 5th ruling will destroy an already dying industry in California and part of the state’s heritage. In the same LA Times article, Mercer Lawing, director of the CTA, added that people will now have “bobcats running through their backyards, eating their dogs and kittens.”
Bobcat in the wild. Photo courtesy of USFWS
Commissioners did say they would be willing to consider lifting trapping restrictions in some areas once studies are completed and there is a more accurate picture of the status of wild bobcats. According to the LA Times, as of August 5, 2015, there have been “more than 25,000 registered comments in support of the statewide ban, and a dozen letters in favor of trapping zones.” California wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists are rejoicing at the decision and touting it as “good news for bobcats, but bad news for rodents.”
For more information on the natural history of bobcats, please visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles at www.nhm.org/site/explore-exhibits/permanent-exhibits/north-american-mammals/bobcat.
The Wildlife Waystation is home to four unreleasable bobcats and other native, unreleasable wildlife! Please visit www.wildlifewaystation.org for more information on getting involved or supporting our animals.
"Shilo" one of the bobcats at the Wildlife Waystation.
Related articles and sources of information, as well as sources for my article
- California Fish and Game Commission http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2015/index.aspx#478 and the Proposed regulatory language is at http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2015/478regs.pdf
- AB-1213 Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1213
- “California Fish and Game Commission Prohibits Bobcat Trapping,” August 5, 2015 http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news_briefs/2015/08/ca-bobcat-trapping-080515.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
- Project Bobcat http://projectbobcat.org/
- Sahagan, Louis, “California bans trapping of bobcats amid protests over cruelty,” LA Times, Aug.5, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-california-bans-trapping-of-bobcats-amid-protests-over-cruelty-20150805-story.html
- Clarke, Chris, KCET, “California Bans Bobcat Trapping in 3-2 Vote,” August 5, 2015 http://www.kcet.org/news/redefine/rewild/hunting/california-bans-bobcat-trapping-in-3-2-vote.html
- Koseff, Alexei, Sacramento Bee, “Commission approves statewide bobcat trapping ban,” August 5, 2015, http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article30187980.html
- Wilson, Ethan, “Bobcat trapping has sadly come to Joshua Tree,” February 2013, http://www.joshuatreeoasis.com/blog/park-news/bobcat-trapping-joshua-tree/
- Sahagan, Louis, LA Times, “Locals believe bobcat trappers are crossing the line in Joshua Tree,” February 11, 2013, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/11/local/la-me-bobcats-20130211
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