California bans bobcat trapping, despite evidence
With a contentious 3-2 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission approved a statewide ban on trapping of bobcats.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance and its Al Taucher Conservation Coalition partners favored following the science amassed by the state and federal governments.
“Today’s narrow decision by the commission to ban bobcat trapping in California flies in the face of the science made available by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Josh Brones, government affairs coordinator of western operations for the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “For the commission to willfully ignore the departments’ recommendations to not implement the ban, indicates an utter lack of regard for the role and value of science and wildlife professionals in resource policy-making decisions.”
In his presentation, Craig Martz, senior environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, provided ample evidence that the bobcat population in California was stable and possibly growing, and as high as 140,000 animals. When the maximum population was estimated to be no more than 72,000 bobcats nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife established a threshold of harvest by hunters and trappers to be 14,400 bobcats. Given the current average annual take of approximately 1,800 bobcats, the department’s staff appropriately summarized their presentation by stating that the trapping of bobcats would have absolutely no impact on the population.
In a disappointing turn of events, newly appointed commissioners Sklar and Williams voted against sportsmen and were the deciding factors in the needless statewide ban, with commission president Jack Baylis joining them. Commissioners Kellogg and Hostler-Carmesin voted against the ban.
“We are very disappointed by the willingness of the new commissioners to cave to the irrational and emotional arguments of the animal-rights community by taking such a radical stance on a very complex topic that has been debated for more than year – especially when their knowledge and experience with the subject matter has been confined to this single meeting,” said Brones.
“When they were appointed by Gov. Brown, we had hoped Williams and Sklar would recognize the environmental and economic importance sportsmen serve in wildlife management. At the very least, we hoped they would take a prudent and thoughtful look at the evidence and recommendation of state and federal scientists,” continued Brones. “Apparently, that was too much to hope for in this hotly debated contest. This glaring disregard for credible science will most assuredly be exploited as we pursue our options to reverse this decision.”