It was only as recently as 1989 that less than 200 bobcats roamed NH. That year, the state banned the trapping or hunting of the graceful and valuable predator. If you’ve been left in awe at a glimpse of these big cats in your backyard, or lucky enough to find their wide, four-claw paw prints in the snow, you know they’ve been slowly making their way back from the brink of devastation.
So now, the NH Fish and Game Commission have voted to approve a hunting, baiting, and trapping season against bobcats.
How did this recent proposal come about? For decades UNH (in conjunction with the Fish and Game) has been studying the population, including using sightings by citizens who reported them to researchers – citizens who did not realize their observations would then be used to justify the killing of the very animals they enjoyed catching a glimpse of. Nobody can pinpoint the exact number of bobcats, but through this study the Fish and Game Commission contend it’s at least 1400; enough in their view, to justify a lottery for 50 hunting and trapping permits a season. (It’s also worth noting the Fish and Game gains profit from these permits, profits they desperately need as they’ve fallen into a major deficit and are facing a funding shortfall.)
Here are some other quick FAQ’s:
Who is the Fish and Game?
- The 11 members on the Commission are appointed by the Governor and are required to have active hunting licenses. As far as I’m aware, none of them are biologists or conservationists, which is interesting because their role is to conserve, manage and act as guardians for NH wildlife.
Are bobcats dangerous to people?
- Bobcats DO NOT attack people. (*unless they have rabies.) Weighing up to 35 pounds, they hunt prey like rabbits, deer and birds.
How will they be killed?
- These bobcats will be lured and trapped. There are different types of traps, including foothold traps, where the cats are left for up to 24 hours with their foot clamped before being shot in the head with a 22.-caliber gun. Animals have been known to chew off their own legs when trapped with footholds just to escape.
What will the dead bobcats be used for?
- Rugs. Wall decorations. Hats. These aren’t animals people hunt for food, like deer or birds.
Whether you oppose or support the hunt, there are a few upcoming events where you can let the Fish and Game know how you feel. They’ll take into account the feelings of citizens as they make a final decision.
- PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD NOW OPEN THROUGH FEB. 10 (NH Residents Only – include your address):
Please send your comments and put “Bobcat” in the subject line to – email@example.com
To send public comments through postal mail – Atty. Evan Mulholland, Legal Coordinator
NH Fish & Game Department
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301
- ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARING FEB. 1
A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 1 at 6pm in the Representatives Hall of the NH Statehouse in Concord. Attend the hearing and let your voice be heard!
- TWEET IN THE #SAVENHBOBCATS TWEET STORM
Use the hashtag #saveNHbobcats on Sunday, January 17 at 4pm as the internet comes together to speak out for bobcats in NH. (You can follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/GraniteSteGirl)
- RALLY IN PORTSMOUTH TO SAVE NH BOBCATS
On Friday, January 29 from 5:30pm – 6:30pm, join Voices Of Wildlife in New Hampshire in conjunction with Occupy New Hampshire Seacoast and Seacoast Overpass Light Brigade as the rally together to save the bobcats.
NH is full of natural treasures, and the bobcat is one of those wonders. Here’s hoping they’re allowed to continue to flourish in our state, playing their crucial part in our ecosystem, instead of hanging as a decoration in somebody’s home.