How would the department achieve this goal? By allowing the public to kill more bobcats.
I suspect that many people do not agree that the best way to enjoy bobcats is to shoot or trap them.
Maybe DEC suspects this, too. In a press release this week, the department buries the news. After boilerplate quotes from DEC officials and a list of the plan’s goals, the press release states: “The plan includes proposals to greatly simplify hunting and trapping season dates by making them consistent throughout much of the state as well as establishing new hunting and trapping opportunities in central and western New York.”
For details, you have to go to the plan itself. The biggest change is that large parts of central New York and the Southern Tier would now be open to the hunting and trapping of bobcats. The season would run from October 15 to the Friday before the start of the regular big-game season.
Other policy changes include:
1. A bobcat season also would be initiated (for hunting and trapping) in a smaller region just north of New York City. It would run from October 15 to February 15.
2. In the Adirondacks (and the rest of the North Country), the trapping season would be extended about two months. As a result, both hunting and trapping seasons would run from October 15 to February 15.
3. In Tug Hill, both the trapping and hunting seasons would be extended to February 15 as well.
DEC estimates that the state has about five thousand bobcats. Although the population has been growing, bobcats have not been a frequent nuisance. “Bobcats are not usually found near areas of high human development and negative interactions with humans are uncommon,” the plan says. “Livestock depredations, while rare, do occur in some areas of the state.”
Thus, the main purpose for the policy change is to provide hunters and trappers more opportunities to kill bobcats, either as trophies or for pelts (which can fetch $50 to $200).
In recent years, sportsmen have harvested between four hundred and five hundred bobcats a year. DEC estimates that fewer than a hundred additional bobcats a year will be killed if its plan takes effect. The department says the bobcat population can easily withstand the loss of that many specimens.
Thus, there seems to be little reason to object to the plan unless you oppose hunting and/or trapping.
I’m not writing this to take a stand one way or the other. I just think people should know about this plan, because it could be controversial.
You can read the plan on DEC’s website by clicking here. Comments will be accepted through February 16. They can be e-mailed to [email protected] (type “Bobcat Plan” in the subject line).
Meantime, feel free to share your thoughts here as well.
Bobcat photo by Larry Master.
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.