The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants to allow more hunting and/or trapping of bobcats in many parts of the state, including the Adirondacks.
In a draft five-year management plan, DEC reports that the state’s bobcat population—now estimated to be five thousand—has been growing, especially in the Southern Tier. Roughly twice the size of housecats, bobcats prey on a variety of species, from small voles to white-tailed deer.
DEC says up to 20 percent of the state’s bobcats (i.e., a thousand animals) could be killed by hunters and trappers each year without hurting the population. In recent years, sportsmen have harvested between four hundred and five hundred a year. Under its proposed plan, DEC estimates that this tally would increase by less than a hundred, still well below the critical threshold.
As indicated by the map above, the trapping season in the Adirondacks and the rest of the North Country would be extended. The season now runs from October 25 to December 10. Under the plan, it would be extended to February 15. The hunting season will not change.
The trapping season in the Adirondacks had been shorter than elsewhere to protect fishers. Since the fisher population has rebounded, the department feels that rationale no longer obtains.
The plan also calls for extending both the hunting and trapping seasons in central Tug Hill to February 15.
In the biggest change, DEC wants to initiate hunting and trapping of bobcats in much of the Southern Tier, where the population has increased dramatically over the past decade. “What began as occasional sightings along the New York/Pennsylvania border has progressed to large numbers of observations, trail camera photos, and incidental captures and releases by trappers,” the proposed plan says. “Over the past five years there have been 332 bobcat observations documented in the harvest expansion area.”
DEC also seeks to allow hunting and trapping of bobcats in the region just north of New York City.
The public has until February 16 to comment on the proposal.
Click the link below to read the plan (PDF file).