By RIK STEVENS | Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire has taken a step closer to restoring hunting and trapping seasons for bobcats and preservation groups are protesting.

At a meeting Wednesday, the state Fish and Game Commission voted to reconsider a ban on hunting the elusive cats and consider a limited hunting/trapping season. Specific rules still need to be adopted after a full public process.

When the bobcat population dropped below an estimated 200 in 1989, the state protected it and banned hunting or trapping bobcats. Earlier this year, biologists said the population may have rebounded to as many as 1,400 in the fall and winter and 2,200 in spring and summer.

Opponents say there is no need to hunt bobcats. They worry the animal will be exploited for its pelt and the population could crash again.