Trapping Bobcats For Profit Could Become Illegal In California
A bill banning the commercial trapping of bobcats has been introduced in the California Legislature by Assemblyman Richard Bloom. The Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 would make it illegal to trap, import, export or sell any bobcat part or product.
Perhaps you are surprised to learn that it is perfectly legal to trap these big cats in order to make money, not just in California but in many states? In general, the bobcat is protected in midwestern states, but not in western states, while in eastern states a permit is required to destroy bobcats.
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Clearly, this practice is horrible, but AB1213 is happening now because there has been a 51 percent increase over the past year in the number of bobcats killed in California. According to Bloom, this is due to an increased demand for exotic animals pelts in China, Russia, Greece and other foreign markets, which means the price of a pelt has risen from $78 to about $700 since 2009.
At Care2, we've been keeping you informed about the dire consequences of the Chinese demand for rhino horns and ivory, but it seems that the Chinese, amongst others, are also developing a penchant for bobcat pelts.
What Is A Bobcat?
The bobcat is two to three times the size of the domestic cat and is also more muscular. Its hind legs are proportionately longer to its front legs than those of the domestic cat, and of course it has those cute ears and a short bobbed tail.
Bobcats are very closely related to the lynx but are more widely geographically distributed than lynx and are adaptable to many environments: deserts, swamps, forests, even urban environments.
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It was the recent discovery of bobcat traps on the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park, one of my personal favorites, that ignited fury amongst animal lovers. Local residents discovered that trappers were operating on private property without permission and targeting bobcats crisscrossing the boundaries of the 640,000-acre National Park.
Commercial Trappers Have Free Rein In California
The problem, according to wildlife advocates, is that there is very little regulation of bobcat trapping in California and nobody really knows how many bobcats there are. The state's estimate of 70,000 bobcats is three decades old, said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel and wildlands program director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Commercial trappers can now go virtually anywhere they want in the state, including, in some cases, private property, unless it is explicitly closed to trapping, Cummings said.
"Under California's antiquated trapping laws, it's perfectly legal for trappers to line the boundary of a national park with traps, kill the park's wildlife, and ship the animals' pelts to China," Cummings said.
The proposed bill is one of several over the past year that targeted hunting practices in California, including a law that banned the hounding of bears and bobcats. That came on top of a controversy over pictures of former Fish and Game Commission President Dan Richards holding a dead mountain lion he shot in Idaho, an act that is illegal in California.
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AB1213 would not ban sport hunting of bobcats, just killing for commercial purposes: it would classify bobcats as "fur-bearing mammals" and make it illegal to trap them or to import, export or sell any bobcat part or product.
What do you think? Should it ever be legally permitted to trap and kill animals, as opposed to trapping them for research purposed, or to move them to a better location?