INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana could soon add bobcats to the list of animals that are allowed to be hunted in some parts of the state.
The state Department of Natural Resources is considering removing bobcats from Indiana’s list of protected species to allow for hunting and trapping in southwestern Indiana because of a recent surge in population. The growth would be managed appropriately by enforcing limits for individuals and a statewide quota, officials said.
Currently, the species’ numbers only decrease when bobcats die in accidental kills, such as car accidents or of old age, said Sgt. Paul Axton with DNR’s District 7 in southwest Indiana.
“The bobcat population is on the increase, and they’re on the top of the food chain,” Axton said.
In Indiana, bobcats became an endangered species in 1969, and then a protected species in 2005.
Because the proposal is in the informational stage, many details still need to be worked out, said Scott Johnson, wildlife science program manager. The department will collect feedback on the idea until May 15 and will consider the comments over the summer before making a decision, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Erin Huang, Indiana director for Humane Society of the United States, said setting a sustainable quota for hunting season would be challenging because it’s difficult to track the exact number of bobcats.
“This is a species that has been protected since 1969 since they were nearly (destroyed) from the state due to overhunting,” Huang said. “They’re elusive, shy creatures. I don’t know if there’s really any reason for it.”
Jimmy Durako, who frequently hunts in southern Indiana and owns a hunting lights store in Lafayette, said a large bobcat population means less food for the species, which could cause them to venture into someone’s yard and eat a pet or livestock.
Law enforcement officials in southern Indiana said they often hear about bobcat sightings, but they haven’t experienced any issues beyond car crashes.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com