Thursday, June 13, 2013

DEC Expands Bobcat Hunting and Trapping

bobcatBobcat hunting and trapping seasons have been expanded under a new set of regulations adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

According to a DEC press release: “After careful consideration of the public comments received, DEC adopted rules affecting bobcat hunting and trapping in New York to implement certain aspects of the state’s Five-Year Bobcat Management Plan.” The Bobcat Management Plan drew fire last year and public comments received by the department were overwhelming against the expanded season.

“The harvest of bobcats will be closely monitored by DEC biologists via activity logs maintained by hunters and trappers, a mandatory pelt sealing program, and hunter and trapper surveys,” the DEC press release said.

The newly adopted changes which apply to Northern New York include:

The trapping season in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6F, 6G, 6H, 6J and 6N is extended to match the hunting season dates; the season in these WMUs now closes February 15th each year.

The hunting season in WMU 6N is extended to February 15th each year to match the rest of northern New York.

Hunting areas were also widely expanded in southern and western New York; no changes were made in the southeastern New York.

The full text of the adopted bobcat regulations and a summary of public comments on this rulemaking is available on DEC’s website.  The Bobcat Management Plan, which formed the basis for these regulatory changes, is also available on DEC’s website.

Read more about Adirondack wildlife here.

Bobcat photo by Larry Master.

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23 Responses

  1. Lily says:

    The US’s wildlife management techniques need a complete, thorough and deep reaching overhaul. There is absolutely no reason in todays society to allow leg hold traps. They are simply barbaric, cruel and ought to be immediately outlawed. Further, data shows that Adirondack Bobcat populations are steady and sustainable. No increase of the killing is justified. Finally, this animal is killed for its fur. Not as food necessary to sustain anyone’s life. Brutally killing these gorgeous creatures simply to stip them of their skin should no longer be tolerated by our society.

    • Bill Ott says:

      I was coming down the Oswegatchie River in early May and found a dead beaver in a leg hold trap. I found it by the smell. It had been trapped, died, and wasted; perhaps alone – or not. I looked up beaver trapping when I got home, and it is legal, but killing an animal for nothing seems wrong.

      I marked the location on my gps, on 10May2013, well past trapping season.

      Bill Ott,
      Lakewood, Ohio

  2. dave says:

    I wonder exactly what sort of public input it would have taken to alter the DEC’s plans on this one.

  3. Alan Gregory says:

    I CAN’T help but feel this action is more about collecting the revenue from the sale of licenses and tags than it is about any lofty “management”objective.

    • william Deuel,Jr says:

      There are very few people who trap anymore, certainly not enough for any windfall from licenses or tags.

  4. Harold says:

    Obviously the letter I wrote arguing against this DEC decision had little impact. As a fisherman and a supporter of hunting for food I am still uneducated about the purpose of hunting and trapping bobcats. Please tell me that it goes beyond stuffing them.

  5. Wren Hawk says:

    How frustrating when both science and popular opinion support ceasing the “harvest” (as if bobcats were plants not sentient beings) that the DEC cannot respond properly. The public doesn’t really even get a nod. As usual, it leaves us assuming that politics is the key element in decision making – appeasing those who think of killing wildlife as sporting. Disappointing…

  6. Dan says:

    Perfect example of DEC’s shared decision-making: they make the decision, then share it with the rest of us. They seem effectively exempt from their own strict SEQRA laws and regs that give the public a voice – that is, over everything other than State agencies. So much for moving beyond the perception that they are not merely political in their decision-making.

  7. Pete Klein says:

    Like we are being overrun by bobcats?

  8. Peter Bauer says:

    Prices are up for bobcats in fur markets in China, Greece and Russia. DEC bowed to pressure to increase the harvest statewide.

    Public comments were overwhelmingly opposed. Did DEC listen? No. This is yet another giveaway by the DEC where natural resource management is trumped by hyper-political considerations.

    In the Adirondacks, the season will be extended into deep winter. This is the most stressful and difficult time for these cats. Now deep winter conditions for bobcats will become even more challenging with the extended hunting season.

    This is DEC pelt price science.

  9. dave says:

    – Overpopulation.

    – A nuisance or danger to communities.

    – Causing harm to other wildlife or the environment.

    These are the reasons why you would typically try to “manage” a species.

    None of them apply to the Bobcat.

    So it would seem that the DEC is not managing our wildlife for environmental or scientific purposes – or for the benefit of ALL residents. Instead it seems to believe that part of its mission is to manage wildlife for the benefit of a very VERY small special interest group (we are talking a subset of hunters/trappers here, maybe a few hundred people).

    • Bill Ott says:

      Maybe we should manage the voles I have been reading about in the Almanack. They seem to be much more uncontrollable.

  10. John W says:

    Some people think that hunting or trapping bobcat is as easy as trapping mice in their kitchen. It isn’t. Hunting bobcats is generally done using two methods. Dogs and calling. Dog hunting is a very strenuous undertaking where all but the most physically fit can do. The other method is using a varmint call where you imitate a wounded prey animal in the hopes of attracting a predator. It is not a sure thing. I heard the same issues brought up when there was a change in Massachusetts regarding bobcats. We had a law where if the total season take of bobcats went above 50 cats the season would be closed. That was amended and many people were concerned about overharvesting,etc. Well it didn’t happen. The take has always hovered around 50 or so anyways and our bobcat population is fine. The real issue is that wildlife managers cannot manage scientifically but socially. That can be a very bad thing for wildlife in the long term.

  11. Paul says:

    I don’t see a great need for increasing bobcat harvests. And I would not be surprised if this would have much effect anyway. I personally would not shoot a bobcat, and I have been lucky enough to have see a few in the woods while hunting for other things.

    It appears that folks here are all up in arms over this. Overwhelming negative public comment on an issue that one side is very passionate about does not mean that it represents the majority view by any means. That has to be taken into account.

    I would also look at this:

    “The trapping season in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6F, 6G, 6H, 6J and 6N is extended to match the hunting season dates; the season in these WMUs now closes February 15th each year.

    The hunting season in WMU 6N is extended to February 15th each year to match the rest of northern New York”

    These look like changes that will just make enforcement of the laws easier? As an ENCON officer how do you distinguish between a cat that was shot and a cat that was trapped and then perhaps shot? With the old dates where trapping and hunting seasons did not match it was maybe too easy for a hunter to fake that he was a trapper. This could help weed out illegal hunters which is good for the Bobcat population.

  12. Brian says:

    DEC biologists shouldn’t have to take people’s emotional response into consideration while trying to do their jobs. There is no shortage of bobcats in NY and their population is growing. These changes will have a minimal impact on overall numbers and the DEC won’t generate enough additional revenue from this to buy a cup of coffee. The trapping season is being lengthened to match the dates of the hunting season and opened in parts of the state with most population growth.

  13. Paul K says:

    If over population is the problem then just catch and release somewhere else… its a no brainer

  14. TiSentinel65 says:

    The reason why they expanded the season was the data collected supported that the bobcat populations could withstand the added pressure. Bobcats are highly elusive. It is not like the take will go up significantly. I read an article on bobcat studies in a past printed version of the Adirondack Explorer and it was highly educational and enlightening. I believe the man was one of DEC”s biologists, but the article was in depth and discussed some of they greater threats to bobcat mortality, a virus that is common to house cats I believe he said was a greater threat than all of trapping. Any way If you can find the article, read it. You will come away with a greater appreciation for what they have found through scientific study to be the one of the greater contributors to bobcat mortality, and it is not trapping.

  15. dave says:

    This seems to come down to whether you think it is proper to manage wildlife for the sole benefit of hunting/trapping.

    The DEC clearly thinks so.

    • John W says:

      The sale of hunting,fishing and sporting licenses as well as excise taxes through the Pittman Robinson Act fund fish and wildlife. You could say that hunters and fishermen pay their freight.

      I can bet that the bobcat take will not increase that much. Increased opportunity does not equate increased harvest in all cases. These creatures are very elusive and difficult to hunt. I can bet that 99% of the people who visit the region will never see a bobcat. It is their nature to be secretive. I have seen many in my time spent hunting but few people will get up and be in the woods before dark in a treestand where you can watch wildlife . Also the vast majority of people are too noisy and don’t even think of scent control which will add to lessening the chance of seeing such a creature. As far as trapping, I don’t have any bobcat trapping experience. Some beaver but not bobcat. Again the departments set regulations and would not allow for an overharvest.Again they are secretive creatures and I suspect trapping isn’t a cakewalk.

      • dave says:

        Whether hunters pay their freight via licensing was never in question.

        But is that the standard we should us when deciding how to manage wildlife? If one small group can pay their way or not?

        That seems to me to be a poor basis for decisions like this.

        I would argue that environmental science should be what drives our decisions to manage wildlife. And this is a clear case where the science tells us increased management is not necessary.

        • william Deuel,Jr says:

          Where is the environmental science that says this is not necessary or at least allowed ? Most people have never seen one let alone know what the current population is . I have them on trail cameras from my camp in Newcomb to my home in Saratoga. I do not always agree with Dec but they are usually pretty good with population numbers.

        • Paul says:

          “And this is a clear case where the science tells us increased management is not necessary.” Really?? How do you figure? It sounds like this mostly a way to align the two management tools (trapping and hunting). That seems like a reasonable thing to do. The problem is that Wildlife managers need to get input on too many things. Many people here don’t care anything about the science involved (Dave, you do so this isn’t pointed at you) they simply don’t want people killing Bobcats. It is perfectly fine for the DEC to ignore those kinds of comments.

  16. Duane n says:

    I have been hunting for some thirty years now. I can remember the days of party permits for deer management permits that required 3 guys to get one. now I can get several tags myself for deer. some years I take three deer for my family to eat. so if the DEC was so politically aren’t people complaining about how many deer we can take. Seems like science plays a role in all of the DEC decisions and input from the people using the resources the Sportsmen of NYS. Not the Anti-hunters. And the there to cute to shoot people let the DEC manage the game the way they have done lately. Seems to me there’s more of everything out there now a days! Just my two cents!!!