Should northern NY hunters have more chances to bag a bobcat?
WILMINGTON, N.Y. -
Home video captured a rare bobcat sighting on Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks.
"Because they're secretive people don't observe them frequently. There's a certain mystique with bobcats that trappers, hunters want the opportunity to harvest the animal to have that memory," said Paul Jenson of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
The statewide population is around 5,000. The DEC says it continues to grow and could handle increased hunting and trapping opportunities. The department has proposed a five-year plan that would expand the seasons for the elusive cats. The biggest changes involve hunting regulations in the southern part of the state. Here in the Adirondacks, the only change would be extending the hunting season by two months.
"The primary change would be that hunters and trappers would be able to hunt and trap bobcats from Oct. 25 through Feb. 15," Jenson said.
On average, about 500 bobcats are captured each year. The DEC estimates that fewer than 100 additional bobcats would be killed each year if their plan takes effect.
"I think it is a mistake," said Steve Hall, who operates the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington.
Hall and his wife are caring for two bobcats that cannot survive alone in the wild. They question the DEC proposal, saying that it is more in response to the population expanding its territory, not necessarily a rapid growth in numbers.
"We think this is a cause for celebration, not additional harvesting," Hall said.
And Hall also points out one of the three main objectives of the DEC plan is to ensure all outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the elusive bobcat when spotted.
"What they say is they want the entire public to enjoy the bobcats, but other than hunters and trappers, every other person like wildlife naturalists, photographers, what they want are living bobcats, not dead bobcats," Hall said.
The DEC is accepting comments on the bobcat management plan through Feb. 16. You can submit your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and slug email bobcat plan or mail to NYSDEC, Bobcat Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.
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