Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bobcat Crisis

We love our bobcats. We've had several as frequent visitors who we recognize by sight. But we haven't seen them now for many months--and, by all accounts, our local population of bobcats has been deciminated by trappers. 

The issue came to a head in January, when a Joshua Tree resident found a bobcat trap on his private property, adjacent to the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. Turns out the trapper in question had 30 traps set around the basin and won't say how many cats he trapped this season--though he did admit to taking as many as five in one night.

At the present, bobcat trapping is legal and there are no limits on it. This week, a bill will go before the California State Legislature to ban bobcat trapping. Since the last population studies on bobcats in California were done in the 1970s, there is no current data available. The concern is that because prices for bobcat pelts are on the rise ($300-$600 apiece and up--their fur is used in clothing), trappers are gearing up and bobcats may truly be in peril.

We agree with the view expressed by Seth Shteir, California Desert Field Representative, National Parks Conservation Association: “We support the ban on bobcat trapping until the California Department of Fish and Game or the United States Fish and Wildlife Service provides data that irrefutably demonstrates that trapping is not endangering local and regional populations of this important predator.”

For more information, see today's front-page article in The Desert Sun or visit Project Bobcat.