Nearly 2 years after the Governor signed Assembly Bill 1213, the Bobcat Protection Act, into law, the California Fish And Game Commission will be deciding how to implement the new law when they meet August 5 in Fortuna, here in Humboldt County.
Across North America, Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are routinely trapped for an overseas fur market that can bring from less than a hundred to well over a thousand dollars per “pelt.” In California, the discovery by wildlife advocates that Bobcats were being lured by trappers out of Joshua Tree National Park brought the issue to the attention of the Sate Assembly.
The Bobcat Protection Act is a much needed remedy to the thoughtless disregard for these beautiful and intrinsically precious felines. Here is the overall summation of its reach as it appears in the legislation:
This bill would enact the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013, which would, beginning January 1, 2014, make it unlawful to trap any bobcat, or attempt to do so, or to sell or export any bobcat or part of any bobcat taken in the area surrounding Joshua Tree National Park, as specified. The bill would require the commission to amend its regulations to prohibit the trapping of bobcats adjacent to the boundaries of each national or state park and national monument or wildlife refuge in which bobcat trapping is prohibited, as specified. The bill would require the commission, commencing January 1, 2016, to consider whether to prohibit bobcat trapping within, and adjacent to, preserves, state conservancies, and any other public or private conservation areas identified to the commission by the public as warranting protection, and to amend its regulations accordingly, as specified. The bill would prohibit the trapping of any bobcat, or attempt to do so, on any private land not belonging to the trapper without the express written consent of the owner of that property, as specified. The bill would require the commission to set trapping license fees for the 2014–15 season, and any subsequent seasons in which bobcat trapping is allowed, at the level necessary to fully recover all reasonable administrative and implementation costs of the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the commission associated with the trapping of bobcats in the state, as specified. The bill would provide that these provisions do not limit the ability of the department or the commission to impose additional requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions related to the taking of bobcats.
According to the law, “the area surrounding Joshua Tree National Park, as specified” is a geographical description using common features of the landscape that are easily recognized: “East and South of State Highway 62 from the intersection of Interstate 10 to the intersection of State Highway 177; West of State Highway 177 from the intersection of State Highway 62 to the intersection with Interstate 10; North of Interstate 10 from State Highway 177 to State Highway 62.”
The law also stipulates that all other protected areas be described in like manner. As it happens, the other protected areas (that is, national parks, state parks, national monuments, and wildlife refuges) number in the hundreds. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife deemed this effort to be too costly and devised a method to reduce the number of individual protected areas. The Department’s proposed method of implementation is to create two zones, northern and southern, outside of which all Bobcat trapping would be banned, reducing the number of protected areas by a factor of ten from over 300 to just over 30. At the meeting of the FGC in Van Nuys last December, CDFW staff stated that even with the number of sites in need of description reduced the task would be time-consuming and expensive. The resources required to enforce the law in these buffered areas would also be costly, making enforcement very challenging, if not impossible.
Of course, another way to implement the Bobcat Protection Act, allowed by the new law and suggested by outgoing Fish and Game Commissioner Richard Rogers, is to ban Bobcat trapping completely, a measure that the new law sanctions and common sense endorses.
Bird Ally X strongly supports a complete ban on Bobcat trapping. As we stated in our March 2015 letter to the Commission:
Now, after centuries of abuse, it is imperative that our policies and programs reflect what we already know. A tradition of cruelty, a tradition of greed, a tradition of reckless disregard for the natural world that gives us our lives and which we barely comprehend is no tradition to protect. The only sensible plan is to ban commercial and so-called recreational trapping. The Bobcat Protection Act is intended to protect Bobcats, not Bobcat trappers.
Bird Ally X staff, volunteers and supporters will attend the meeting to offer our public comments and to urge the Fish and Game Commission to enact a complete ban. Please, join us!
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