Spare the bobcat

Eighty percent of public comments opposed extending hunting and trapping of bobcats.BigStockPhoto
Eighty percent of public comments opposed extending hunting and trapping of bobcats.BigStockPhoto

The bobcat, an elusive and beautiful Adirondack neighbor, has managed to do what the wolf and the cougar could not. It has held its own against the trophy hunters, fur traders, and those who through fear or misplaced sense of sport take aim at the wild predator. In the Adirondack Park and other regions of the state bobcats continue to pad through the forest.

We should celebrate this victory of wild nature over senseless destruction and do what we can to extend the bobcat’s reign. Instead, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed expanding the hunting and trapping of bobcats. By the time this magazine reaches you, the DEC may have chosen whether to expand the killing of bobcats or leave the seasons as they are. Neither is acceptable. It should end hunting and trapping bobcats altogether.
In arguing for the expanded season, the DEC’s bobcat-management plan says one of its main goals is to “Provide for sustainable use and enjoyment of bobcat by the public.” Though the document acknowledges that “enjoyment” may include photography, the thrust of the plan is to encourage those who would enjoy the bobcat by killing it. The attitude is an anachronism, a throwback to a frontier attitude that the wild is something for humans to battle, subjugate, or extirpate.

Unlike deer and other game, bobcats are not a meaningful food source as hunters usually don’t eat their flesh.
They are not an important nor an honorable source of income as trade in their pelts has plunged since its nineteenth-century heyday. Wearing the fur of a wild cat isn’t chic in a society that at least in this way has become more enlightened about our relationship with nature.

So what’s left as a reason to kill these creatures? Trophy hunting? A photograph captured through the combination of wilderness knowledge, artistic skill, and persistent effort is a worthy trophy. A glassy-eyed carcass preserved by the taxidermist is just sad evidence of sensibilities that should have been laid to rest long ago.

With some wild-animal populations, hunting is a necessary management tool for those working to maintain balance in natural ecosystems. Since we earlier wiped out the cougars and wolves that helped keep deer numbers in check, having human hunters fill that niche helps prevent the deer population from exploding to the point where it overwhelms other elements of the ecosystem. In the large sense, the deer are better off when hunters humanely kill some of their number and spare the rest from the hunger and slow death that arise from an overwhelmed habitat.

But there is no need to “harvest” bobcats to keep their population from growing beyond what the habitat can support. Other agents, including natural predators and disease, keep the bobcat population under control.

Nor is there a case to be made that we twenty-first-century sojourners in the state’s wilder environs need to kill bobcats to protect ourselves, our livestock, or our domestic pets. Experts say bobcats are not a threat to humans and they rarely come into conflict. Similarly, the cats don’t threaten larger domestic animals. And simple precautions, such as keeping smaller pets inside, should be enough to prevent problems even in areas where human settlements share bobcat territory.

In comments sent to the DEC, public opinion weighed heavily against the extension of bobcat hunting and trapping: 80 percent of the 1,200 comments were in opposition. These opponents should continue to speak out. There is no justification for continuing the sanctioned killing of these wild creatures at any time.

Tom Woodman, Publisher

Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Leon Spinks#1 fan says

      I find this article completely one sided. I don’t trap specifically for them, but when I get one, I do eat and skin them.

      • Dave says

        The fact that you do not trap specifically for them… yet do catch them… makes the point that trapping is indiscriminate. This is one of the legitimate criticisms of trapping, and something that most people are against.

  1. Steve Hall says

    Ti, your sleight of hand grouping of anti-trapping with anti-hunting doesn’t wash. Subsistence hunting is fine, not least because hopefully you can see what you’re targeting, and many ungulates like deer and elk, in the absence of their natural predators, need controlling for the good of their own species. Trapping, on the other hand, targets specific animals, and ends up killing others, many of which are protected. We have rehabbed bald eagles, barred owls and red-tailed hawks, and been forced to euthanize others caught in traps. For this and many other reasons, most people consider trapping to be cruel and barbaric. Last month I photographed a three-legged grizzly in Denali National Park, who’d stepped in a trap outside Park boundaries, and ended up chewing off his paw to save his life. I “bagged” him with my camera. Leave the bobcats alone, so that others may “enjoy” them in their living state.

    • TiSentinel65 says

      The green groups need not worry. It is not as the take for bobcat is going to go up significantly. Those that have traditionally hunted or trapped them will enjoy expanded seasons. DEC has concluded that the bobcat population will hold steady even with the new opportunities. Most people who are against DEC’s propposal are just against hunting or trapping period.

      • Dave says

        Trapping, maybe… hunting, absolutely not. Most people accept, even if they disagree with, sustenance hunting and hunting as a means of animal population control. What people are against is indiscriminate, unnecessary killing. Trophy killing, especially trophy trapping, is exactly that.

        To continue to claim that this is some black and white “for hunting”/”against hunting” issue makes me question your motives here… or your ability to read and understand the article and comments.

        • RH says

          Why is it that when anyone disagres with some hunters or trappers the reasoning is that they are “anti”? Can’t one understand that the opinions they hold (and are entitled to) are based on the their interpretation or understanding and are not nessarily the right (or wrong) view? So others who may disagree see things differently, that does not make them “anti” anything. It only means that they see the facts differently.

          The question here is if more bobcats need to be killed by extending the season. The answer should be based solely on if the facts show that more bobcats need to be killed in order to benefit them of the prey population. To my knowledge the bobcat population as it stands is not a threat to humans or to other animals nor to itself. So the answer is NO.
          I now ask the person who claims that the answer is because I am “Anti” something to reply with actual evidence that extending the season will be beneficial. If he can’t then I suppose we should label him “pro” hunting and trapping as the only basis for his opinion.

  2. TiSentinel65 says

    What the Japanese did to the Chinese of Nanking in 1937 was barbaric. Trapping an animal is not even close.

  3. Frank says

    What has happened at the Explorer? It seems to have been
    taken over by PETA or the HSUS. The bobcat is not
    endangered in NY. Its range is actually expanding. The
    last 3 issues have been filled with anti trapping and
    anti hunting lies by Explorer board members and the
    editor. It went from opposing the extension of the season
    to now a radical call to stop all hunting and trapping of
    the bobcat. The DEC made the right decison. The arguements
    by the Explorer have no logical or scientific basis. If
    we fall for these arguements all hunting, fishing and
    trapping would be banned eventually. Basing game management on if we feel and animal is attractive or noble is foolish. Antis like Mr Woodman use issues like this as a first step because not many people hunt or trap
    for bobcat. What is next? save the rabbits or the deer?
    If you care about the bobcat work on saving its habitat.

  4. Tracy Andrews says

    If the fact that the wolf and cougar were driven out of the region leaving deer populations unchecked, why trouble the bobcats with a threat to their numbers? Kill kill kill, we progress so slowly. All over the world animal populations are dwindling due to habitat destruction, logging, more and more people gobbling up resources but no culling of the herd there. Safe havens for wildlife are never really safe, illegal hunting and poaching decimated the black rhinos, lLemar’s in Madagascar are on the critical list due to humans destroying their habitat and demand for bushmeat. Despite the fragile state of Polar bears they are still being hunted for trophies in Canada. We need to open up our eyes and look at the world not just the adirondacks and be better than what we are. Let us not wait until the damage to these beautiful creatures is too late to correct. Humans are ugly, selfish and greedy by volume and the few who care and understand are as endangered as the wildlife they rally for. Stupidity and gluttony rules. Always has. We will never learn until it is too late.

    • Lisa says

      Thank you Tom Woodman for your June 25,2012 article in the Times Union. I too agree that the beautiful Bobcat deserves to live. So sick of hunters that call killing a sport. It’s barbaric! No animal should be tortured or hurt in any way. There is no need for getting rid of these or any other of God’s wonderful creatures.

      • AG says

        Yeah – a person who raises animals and sells or slaughters them for food is very different than someone who kills animals for trophies.

      • frank says

        No one is getting rid of the bobcat, the season
        is simply being extended by a short period of time.
        The opponents of the plan do not have the facts on there side so they must use emotional arguements. They use
        words like subjugate, extirpate, torture and barbaric
        to mischaracterize hunting and trapping. No substance. Its interesting to see that what
        supposedly started as a debate about extending the
        season on the “beautiful” bobcat has transformed into
        a full attack on hunting and trapping. Was that the
        Explorer’s plan? If the Explorer wants to turn into
        another anti-hunting/trapping/fishing publication it will
        certainly lose my support. The publication
        actually seemed to want to have a balanced debate and approach on issues within the Park in the past. Those
        days are over.

  5. Andrew says

    Trappers do make income with bobcat pelts, despite the author’s anecdotal evidence that they do not. Hunters do typically not target the species, but can appreciate taking one to a taxidermist which is a form of economic stimulation. I hunt, but I do not prefer to hunt predators for many of the reasons stated, but I feel that the same argument can be made about coyotes and foxes, all of which are pests to farmers and pet owners. The NYSDEC pisses off all kinds of environmentalists be-it hunters, hikers, campers, or animal rights activists because they make much of their regulations based on science, which in theory is unbiased. They do not expand seasons and hunting areas for individual species without serious consideration of population dynamics, public feedback and overall effect on ecological diversity. Many of us are disgusted by the idea of hunting an animal while eating garbage from the supermarket that is made with maximum production in mind and no thought given to native species, diversity, and overall ecological health. If not for the foresight of hunters and conservationists, many of the species we enjoy viewing and hunting, would not be here today. More importantly, many of the places we enjoy seeing these species would not be available, nor as beautiful as they are today.

  6. Joe H. says

    It appears Mr. Woodman is a very wise publisher. He has managed to stir up a controversy that is almost totally based on emotions rather than science.

    A much better, and more topical topic for a magazine that touts it’s mission as the protector of the Adirondacks (Get The Word Out.com) would be to focus on the more pressing issue of waterfleas, knotweed and the chronic unemployment that plagues the North Country. However, such topics don’t raise the hackles or get folks stirred up like the good old pokes at the wicked Elmer Fudd types who ruthlessly stalk animals for pure pleasure.

  7. Charlie says

    I know somebody who traps bobcat behind his house in the Adirondacks.He sets out a trap and goes to it the next day and sometimes there is a suffering bobcat caught in its jaws a bloody mangled mess.This person is not book smart,nor has there ever been as much of a smidgeon of intelleigence radiating from him.When he talks nothing deep comes from him,it’s all small talk.He works,pays bills,watches tv,is into sports…. He’s average.This society is chock full of people just like him. Any amount of money payed for the pelt of a bobcat does not justify killing them in my book.It is beyond me how anybody can kill such a beautiful animal just to make a few dollars,or to see it as a trophy on their wall.The world is full of people lacking soul and who have cold hearts…is why all of the senseless death and destruction that we read or hear about on a daily basis.

  8. Laura Smith says

    I think everyone needs to reread & fully absorb Steve Hall’s comments! Trapping is just not an exceptable form of hunting due to the fact that these traps are left unattended & you do not know what sort of animal will end up in the trap. Even the most pro-trapping person would have to agree that theyw ould be horrified to return to their trap & find a Bald eagle in it suffering to the point that it then has to be euthanized or damaged to the point that it will have to live out the rest of it’s life in captivity after very painful, costly & really exhausting for the rehabbers rehabilitation. Just because it is a “traditional” ADK activity doesn’t mean that it should continue to exist. Hopefully, we are a little more educated now & able to make more reasonable decisions about what is appropriate. I have no objection to people hunting for food. I do eat meat but only meat produced locally & would eat venison if it was allowed to be sold. That is appropriate traditional hunting. Coyotes, fox, bobcats, etc. play very important roles in keeping thins in balance. Did you know that a fox’s primary diet consists of rodents & insects? They even eat different plants. http://mynarskiforest.purrsia.com/ev5rdiet.htm Trapping should be banned entirely unless the trapper is willing to sit close by & observe the trap the entire time it’s set! Mr. Trapper, the dog you catch may be your own!!!!

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