CONCORD, N.H. — A committee on Friday objected to the return of bobcat hunting and trapping in New Hampshire, because the state hasn’t gotten the OK from federal regulators who oversee protection of a lynx that shares the same habitat.
The New Hampshire chapter of the Humane Society and others testified at a hearing that bobcat traps can catch Canada lynx, considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Since the lynx are protected, states cannot allow incidental harm to the cats without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and New Hampshire hasn’t sought one yet. Other states have been sued on the issue.
State Fish and Game officials noted, however, that there’s been no recording of a trapped lynx in recent years.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules agreed that the proposal violates federal law and sent it to Fish and Game committees of the state House and Senate for further review. The state’s Fish and Game Department will then have a chance to respond.
Most of the testimony heard at the nearly-full Representatives Hall at the Statehouse was in opposition, questioning the need for the season, the science behind the decision, and whether the commission took into account all of the public comment.
In February, the state’s Fish and Game Commission narrowly approved bringing back a bobcat hunting and trapping season after more than a quarter-century. Fifty bobcat permits would be issued through a lottery.
Glenn Normandeau, the executive director of the Fish and Game Department, noted that the commission considered allowing 75 permits, before deciding on 50.
“If we had gone to one cat, I’m not sure it would have made any difference in us all being here today,” he said.
Thirty-eight states have bobcat seasons, including Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Those neighboring states don’t have the limits New Hampshire proposes.