Members of the California Trappers Association were disappointed after the state officials rejected a proposal to reverse a ban on bobcat trapping in a move sportsmen claimed ignores the predator’s impact on endangered species.
The California Fish and Game Commission voted to ban bobcat trapping in August despite data that shows the predator is the main cause of declines in the population of endangered Pacific Fisher, Humboldt Marten, San Joaquin Kit Fox and six Kangaroo Rat species, a press release from the California Trapper’s Association said. Bobcats are also a major cause of predation on Desert Tortoise, Greater Sage Grouse and several California Bighorn Sheep species.
The bobcat trapping ban was upheld in a 2-1 vote April 14.
“Ironically, proposals to list the Pacific Fisher and Humboldt Marten as threatened or endangered were pending before the Commission at the very same time the Commission enacted the bobcat trapping ban, even though the Fisher and Marten proposals contained proven scientific data showing bobcat predation to be the number one cause for the near extinction of the Fisher and the Marten. Unbelievably, two of the three sitting Commissioners purposefully chose to ignore all of the credible scientific data and voted to ban bobcat trapping anyway,” said CTA Board Member, Mercer Lawing. “President (Eric) Sklar said he doesn’t care about the science; he just personally objects to trapping on what he calls ‘moral’ grounds.”
Hunters and trappers in California have felt embattled recently after Jim Kellogg, an avid hunter who resigned from the commission in December after 14 years. Kellogg was reportedly a strong advocate for hunters, winning most of the battles on the panel for sportsmen. But in recent years he’s lost on some preservation issues, the LA Times reported.
“I’m not willing to accept the changing world,” he told the paper. “The animal rights people who don’t favor hunting and fishing have more horsepower than they did before.”
Advocates argue trapping bobcats is the most effective way to control the population and provides consistent data about predator population, the CTA said.
Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists found “that the level of take associated with bobcat trapping in California is insignificant relative to natural production and mortality in the species,” the press release said. Only 640 bobcats per year have been trapped in California in the last 15 years out of an estimated 74,000.
“A ban on bobcat trapping will do nothing more than guarantee the extinction of the Pacific Fisher, Humboldt Marten, San Joaquin Kit Fox, various races of California Bighorn Sheep and likely numerous other threatened and endangered species upon which bobcats are the number one or two top predator,” CTA’s George Kammerer said.
“Our petition gave the Commission a second chance to do the right thing here — follow science, the law and its own DFW staff’s bobcat population increase data — and rescind the ill-conceived bobcat trapping ban before another species becomes extinct due to bobcat predation,” he said. “And yet two of three Commissioners still refused to do so.”