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  • Gina Scrofano

The Future Of Bobcats Is In Our Hands - Or Is It?


Clapping, laughing and boo’s were heard coming from a hearing at the NH Fish and Game Headquarters in Concord NH, on October 14th. What was the hullabaloo about? The lives of NH bobcats.


The NH Fish and Game Commission have packed up their gear and have set forth on a road towards allowing the trapping, hounding and baiting of bobcats and it seems nothing is standing in their way.

In 1989 a ban against hunting Bobcats in NH was set in place when the bobcat population plummeted, but now that the population has increased, a proposal to potentially remove the ban and open up a hunting season on the beautiful wildcats has passed.


Arguments For:

1. A recent UNH project reports that NH is now home to between 1400-2200 bobcats, which those in favor feel, is enough to allow an open season on hunting them.

2. Hunters and trappers contributed to the cost of the UNH project and do not want their money to go to wasted.

3. Under the proposal, about 50 licenses would be issued through a lottery process during the season and they claim the small amount of trapping should not pose a danger to the overall population (the number of traps or kills allowed per license was not stated).

Arguments Opposed:

1.  Bobcats pose no threat to the public; they are between 20-30 lbs. and typically avoid contact with people.

2.  Bobcats are not hunted for meat.

3.  Trapping, hounding and baiting are cruel and unsportsmanlike methods (read the Quick Facts listed below).

4.  The UNH numbers could be wrong; many hunters state they have yet to even see a bobcat.

5.  Bobcats struggle during hard winters, never mind an open season on them, which could put them back into endangerment. 6.  Animals other then bobcats could get stuck in the traps. 7.  The hunting of bobcats could have an effect on the balance of nature and negatively impact other species and the environment.

You might be assuming that it was only the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights activists that were against the proposal, however, joining them were also some hunters themselves, such as long-time hunter and outdoors writer, John Harrigan.


When interviewed after the hearing, John Harrigan stated, “It boils down to this, I don’t think that killing bobcats, for the reasons that people want to do so constitutes a wise use of such a wonderful animal and I think maybe the best use and the wise use is, no use at all."


Also among the opposed were three of NH Fish and Games own; Seacoast Commissioner Fred Clews, Rockingham County Commissioner James Ryan and Belknap County Commissioner John McGonagle, who expressed concerns that the UNH numbers may be incorrect and that even if they are, the population still may not be healthy enough to support a hunting season. Those statements where happily applauded by many of the hearing attendees.

However, because the NH Fish and Game Commission is made up of hunters and some proud trappers, it is not a surprise that 7 out of the 10 commissioners voted “yay” and the proposal is now en route towards a public hearing.


Theodore A. Tichy, the Commission’s Chairman stated that the increased bobcat population, due to the 1989 ban, is a “success story” for the department and because of that success, there is now a healthy amount of bobcats for “hunters and trappers to enjoy”.


It was that statement that some of those opposed to the proposal felt was boo worthy, as they do not feel that trapping is something to be enjoyed.


That and other boos that followed were completely disregarded by Theodore Tichy, when he sarcastically stated, “We get that a lot", laughed and then simply moved on. Clearly the opinions of the public, that live in the state in which he and his fellow commissioners are supposed to represent, do not matter to Tichy.


Does It Matter To You?

Read the Quick Facts below and if you decide that you do not wish to allow the NH Fish and Game Commission to succeed in allowing the trapping, hounding and baiting of Bobcats, then please join those standing together to create a barrier on the road that the proposal supporters are so self-righteously marching.


Quick Facts:


Trapping

Hunters set up painful leghold traps and then leave the premises. While they’re away, animals get stuck in the traps. While in the trap, animals sustain serious injuries such as broken limbs, broken teeth, dislocated shoulders, lacerations, fractures, amputation of digits, paws, or whole legs, physiological stress, pain, dehydration and exposure to weather.

If you think they might not be in the traps for long, you’d be thinking wrong. Current NH law requires that traps must only be checked once a day, so even if the rules are followed, the animal could be in excruciating pain for hours and exposed to extreme weather until the trapper returns to kill the animal at point blank range.


Please do not be disillusioned, these traps are left in our NH woodlands with no warning signs around them. That means that our children, our pets (even on a leash), the people and dogs working in our NH rescue groups, as well as non-targeted wildlife are all at risk of getting suck in a trap leading to serious injury, lost limbs and/or death (graphic images have not been included, but please trust examples of such do exist).


Hounding

Not much sportsmanlike activity is involved with this method either. The animals are chased by packs of dogs. The chase can go on until the exhausted bobcat seeks refuge to escape, such as up a tree. The dogs do all the work and are typically fit with tracking collars, so all the houndsman needs to do, is follow a signal to the tree and kill the terrified bobcat at close range. Oftentimes, the bobcat is unable to make it up a tree, forcing her to defend herself against the dogs on the ground, which causes injury and/or death, not only to the bobcat, but frequently to the dogs as well.


What is the purpose?

Bobcats are not killed for meat, do you know anyone that eats bobcat? Neither do I. They are unfortunately killed most often for trophies, or for the sale of their fur, which is often sold overseas to Russia and China.


The Bottom Line

It is confusing as to why hunters would even agree with the trapping, hounding and baiting of an animal, that not only was previously near extinct and is not needed for meat, but for any animal for that matter. Hunting is claimed to be a sport. A sport is made up of the competition between equal competitors and trapping is a blatant and excessive handicap to the animal that many would state is already at a disadvantage. Trapping is a cowardly and disrespectful approach to what some want to call hunting. Disrespectful, not only to the innocent lives that are taken, but also towards the true marksmen who hone in on their skills, hunt for food, and put great efforts into preventing unnecessary fear and pain for animals.


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