Attend May 17 meeting to oppose Ohio Wildlife Council vote to allow bobcat trapping: Corey Roscoe (Opinion)

May 16, 2018 GMT

Attend May 17 meeting to oppose Ohio Wildlife Council vote to allow bobcat trapping: Corey Roscoe (Opinion)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- By the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s own admission in their bobcat research project summary report from last fall, little is known about the state’s bobcat population. In that report, the agency felt more data were needed to avoid “unpredictable outcomes.” Yet, the division has now proposed allowing recreational trapping of bobcats for the first time in decades — without this data.

The bobcat is the Buckeye State’s only native wild cat and has been making a slow recovery after being virtually wiped out by 1850. The bobcat population gradually grew enough to warrant removal from the state endangered species list in 2014.

Still, allowing recreational trapping of this species — especially without comprehensive population data — threatens all of the progress that has been made. And for what? Bobcats are recreationally trapped simply to make a quick buck off of their pelts in overseas markets or for a stuffed trophy mount.

Shamefully, the national trapping lobby is pushing to open up bobcat seasons across the country. The Division of Wildlife’s Ohio Bobcat Management Plan notes that, of the states surrounding Ohio and in the upper Midwest, trapping is allowed in all except Ohio and Indiana. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has also proposed opening a bobcat season, with equally little population data and after considerable pressure from the trapping industry.

In both states, residents opposed to the proposed seasons vastly outnumber those in favor, but wildlife management agencies continue to cave to the interests of a tiny minority that wants to kill these cats. This is wildlife management at its worst.

Perhaps most ironic in Ohio’s case is that the Division of Wildlife justifies the proposed trapping season by arguing that the killing of bobcats will somehow boost scientific research. Interesting, then, that the four-year research project the agency proposed in October did not include trapping as one of the proposed activities. That proposal rightfully focused on research methods that don’t also threaten the survival of the species they are intended to study.

The agency’s plea for science and rigor falls flat on another front, too; incredibly,  it terminated its only biologist dedicated to tracking the bobcat population, who recently posted on social media that the proposed trapping season is “ill-advised,” and “not scientifically sound.”

Ohio’s Division of Wildlife’s decision-making process is inherently flawed and its justification suspect. To make matters worse, the practices that would be allowed during this proposed season are deeply troubling. Bobcats are primarily trapped for their fur, using inhumane devices like steel-jawed leghold traps and snares, which cause excruciating pain and are indiscriminate, posing a threat to family pets and non-target animals.

The Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on whether to open a bobcat season at its Thursday, May 17 meeting – barely giving the public enough time to voice their opposition. Despite this rushed timeline, the council has received more than 1,400 comments against the proposal – and a mere 19 in favor, clearly demonstrating where Ohioans stand on this issue.

Bobcats are an important part of our native habitat and we are fortunate to have a recovering population here in Ohio. The Ohio Wildlife Council should heed the Division of Wildlife’s own warning about the dangers of trapping bobcats without adequate population data, and shut down this proposal before it gets off the ground. Please attend the final vote on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wildlife District One Office, 1500 Dublin Road, in Columbus.

Corey Roscoe is Ohio state director for the Humane Society of the United States.


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