Our Letter to the California Fish and Game Commission concerning implementation of the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013

22 March 2015

California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1320
Sacramento, CA 95814

Sonke Mastrup, Executive Director

re: Implementation of Bobcat Protection Act, in support of a statewide ban on Bobcat trapping.

Dear Sonke Mastrup;

Please include the following comments, submitted by myself, Monte Merrick with Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center in the materials for the Commissioners as they work out the implementation of the Bobcat Protection Act. Thank you!

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The history of wildlife and environmental protection in the United States is the story of hastily enacted corrections to careless and often malicious disregard for the natural balance of earth’s ecosystems. The actions of European colonists on the flora and fauna of North America are a well-recorded disaster. Degradation of habitat, loss of biodiversity, arrogant ignorance and barbaric cruelty have been the hallmarks of the colonizing culture’s interaction with the natural world.

For too many species, watersheds, grasslands, coastal waters and more, conservation efforts have proven too slow, too cumbersome or too weak to adequately rescue them from irreparable harm or even extinction. Examples abound: the Mississippi River, the Eskimo Curlew, the Great Lakes, Wolves, the Carolina Parakeet, the Passenger Pigeon. The Bison teeters in a netherworld of uncertainty, revered as an icon while being converted into an agricultural product.

In varying degrees, we all understand that colonialism, resource extraction, privatization of the commonwealth and the race to harness all forms of natural energy is very bad news for those with whom we share Mother Earth. The evidence is everywhere for all to see. To assert otherwise is to obfuscate, to dissemble, to hold your listener in the lowest regard.

This is the lay of the land in which we now attempt to protect the predators who remain, conserve the scant remaining habitat and halt a planet-wide skid toward an incomprehensible ecological crash. The enormity of what our era faces has no adequate vocabulary. The scale of this disaster is wholly unprecedented, except by cosmic forces. 

We stand here, in this precarious state, attempting to alleviate the absurd and unjust pressure that Bobcats in California must suffer for what is only a pathological desire for inexcusable cruelty.

The rationale for trapping predators, if any, are few and even fewer for species such as Bobcat, who pose no real threat to human safety or the overly protected economic interests of agriculture. In fact, the language of the Bobcat Protection Act states that a primary reason for trapping Bobcat in California is the cash value of their skins in China. To require a persuasive argument that such a rationale for killing Bobcats is immoral, inhumane, wasteful and against the values of rational citizens of California is an affront to intelligence, an affront to self-evident truth.

Only the most thoughtless and cruel among us could dispute this. As it happens, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, such are happy to make their presence known on this and other matters concerning wildlife protection and conservation.

At the California Fish and Game Commission meeting 4 Dec 2014 in Van Nuys, a representative of the California Trapper’s Association made several statements on behalf of trapping Bobcat. Perhaps his most ridiculous assertion was that a ban on Bobcat trapping would be “cultural genocide” – a shocking statement to make while standing on ground that once belonged to the Tongva people, in a state that once was home to over a hundred distinct human languages. In other words, a groundless statement diminished in its offense only by its total ignorance.

Still, putting aside the fact that to debate those who would trap and destroy Bobcat is a circus without merit, the current work being done to implement the Bobcat Protection Act has raised a few points that need to be addressed, if for no other reason than to satisfy our own respect and love for what is real.

Of the options for implementation currently being discussed, that is, (1) a statewide effort to create buffers around all areas where Bobcat trapping is not permitted, (2) the creation of North and South Bobcat trapping zones which would reduce by a factor of ten the number of exclusion areas that need to be delineated and described, and (3) a ban on Bobcat trapping in California, only a ban is feasible.

The dedication of resources required to describe buffers around each park, refuge, and monument, etc. is absurdly steep. Even the second option, which significantly reduces the number of buffer zones, is too expensive. California faces more than enough financial challenges, which will only increase as climate disruption and drought tax our basic services to a degree for which we might not yet be adequately prepared.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife is already tasked with a mission that is highly challenging and underfunded. Citizens of California have a right to sensible leadership that recognizes the current and predictable future needs of our communities and plans accordingly. How could anyone think that spending tens of thousands dollars ensuring that cruelty in the service of avarice, which is what Bobcat trapping amounts to, be protected and enshrined in Fish and Game code?

The third option, which was brought to the table at the aforementioned December meeting, is the only responsible action possible that will meet both the requirements of the Bobcat Protection Act and provide good husbandry of our limited resources.

The Bobcat Protection Act makes explicit (sec 4155, (b)(2), (e), (f)) the Fish and Game Commission’s authority to implement this law and “impose additional requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions related to the taking of bobcats, including a complete prohibition on the trapping of bobcats…”

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.

Thank you for considering these points and for engaging in the hard work of implementing the will of Californians.

Sincerely,

Monte Merrick
co-director/co-founder Bird Ally X
Humboldt Wildlife Care Center

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Want to add your voice to the call for a ban on Bobcat trapping? Check out Project Coyote‘s list of things you can do…

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