Comment Deadline:

Friday, July 31, 12 pm noon, for the August 5 Fortuna meeting  (August 5 is the proposed date for the final rule making decision)

The California Fish and Game Commission will be deciding between Option 1, zonal management plan or Option 2, statewide ban.

Map to Option 1 zones for open trapping areas:

http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2015/478_ISOR_ExbtD_ClosureAreaMap.pdf

For more details on Option 1, zonal management, follow this link:

Page down to bobcat regulations

http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2015/index.aspx#478

WHY MORE LETTERS?

For the past nine months, individual citizens, members of county boards, and groups such as The Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the US, Project Coyote, Natural Resources Defense Council, California Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators, the Sierra Club, Mountain Lion Foundation, Environmental Protection Information Center, Bird Ally X, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, Northcoast Environmental Center, Friends of the Inyo, Friends of Griffith Park, Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, and Project Bobcat have been lobbying the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt a proposed statewide ban on all pelt  trapping of bobcats in our state.

Thanks to your help, we were able to build tremendous momentum throughout 2015. Citizens traveled to many meetings around the state, expressing their diverse concerns and painting a layered picture of overwhelming support for a statewide bobcat trapping ban. Comments made by the majority of Commissioners left us feeling that our message was being heard and that the people had spoken.

Unfortunately, in late June, in an unexpected series of new appointments by Governor Brown, two of our most supportive Commissioners were replaced just as we were rounding the corner to the August 5 rule adoption meeting in Fortuna. One of the outgoing members is the former Commissioner who initiated the option of the statewide ban.

Both of the new Commissioners are likely to be voting between the two options at their very first meeting, without having witnessed the past nine months of presentations and public comment. In order to gain the three of five votes needed to ban bobcat trapping, we’ll be recreating and compressing all of our advocacy into the next few weeks leading up to Fortuna. This is considered a new comment period. We couldn’t have gotten this far without your earlier letters, but the new letters are extremely critical. Please take a moment to write again on behalf of our bobcats. It’s important to limit comments to trapping, and avoid discussions of bobcat hunting.

EXPANDED TALKING POINTS:

Please simply speak your heart, or elaborate on one of the topics below, about which you are most passionate. Letters can be brief or lengthy, but will be most effective if you use your own words.

Comments supporting Option 2, the statewide ban:

  • A ban is the simplest and most economical option for the state, as it will be easier to enforce and more cost effective for taxpayers.
  • Bobcats, as apex predators, are critical to the health and sustainability of our ecosystems. In addition to providing non-toxic rodent control, predators play a role in reducing the risk of fire by pushing herbivores to remove grasses and underbrush over large areas, rather than complacently overgrazing favored spots and compromising plant rejuvenation.
  • The Commission has the duty to act as a steward to protect bobcats in the interest of the public trust as opposed to the interests of a small group of profiteers. Less than one hundred individuals trapped bobcats last season, but letters and comments to the CFGC indicate that public stakeholders overwhelmingly support a ban, greatly outnumbering those who  commercially benefit from trapping (93 individuals in 2013/14).
  • The revenues from pelt trapping are insignificant in light of the jobs, industries, and revenues created by tourism. The people of California benefit directly from non-consumptive uses of wildlife populations, but the major consumers, manufacturers, and beneficiaries of California’s bobcat “product” are China and Russia.
  • The law requires that these trappers pay entirely for the costs of implementing and enforcing the trapping program. However, the proposed license and tag fees under Option 1 are grossly underestimated and insufficient to ensure cost recovery of the program. This will effectively result in continued subsidization of commercial trappers by California taxpayers, which is unacceptable and unlawful.
  • Greatly increased pelt prices (with a record price of $2,100.00), coupled with unlimited trapping within each season, create the potential for depletion beyond recovery—contrary to the Department’s recent statement that bobcats are a “renewable resource” that have experienced “significantly higher levels of annual harvest in the past with no lasting consequence.” We have historically seen over depletion happen again and again with other species, also once considered not-at-risk.
  • Modern population stresses: prohibitions on all other types of spotted cats create tremendous pressures on bobcats to fill the “need” for spotted cat pelts. Drought, fire, decreasing habitat, rodenticides, and road mortality are also creating complex, new, and not yet analyzed stresses to statewide bobcat populations. As a means of justifying “tolerable thresholds” for harvest (currently set at 14,400 bobcats per year), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is only presenting records indicating the number of bobcats depleted through trapping. Other causes of mortality must also be considered.
  • In California, it is only legal to take bobcats in live traps, but this method has serious issues of its own.  Dispatching the bobcats requires methods that include suffocation by snare, injection of poisons, blows to the head and shooting in the brain, all of which are inhumane and objectionable.
  • The use of highly effective scientifically formulated pheromone lures can successfully draw cats into traps from greater distances, with less effort than ever before. After removing one animal, the trap can simply be set again for a new capture. This increases the potential that a single trapper might completely depopulate a given area, as reported in Joshua Tree, where cats were drawn from within protected boundaries. Bobcats cannot biologically adapt quickly enough to keep up with our advances in technology.  Entire families of cats can fall victim and complete hereditary lines can be destroyed.
  • Urge the Commissioners to finish the job that our legislators started. Tell the CFGC that in the Bobcat Protection Act (AB1213), they were explicitly granted the authority to implement a complete prohibition on the pelt trapping of bobcats, and that AB1213 passed easily through the legislature with the right to a ban very clearly placed in the language of the bill. Our opposition claims otherwise.
  • Remind the CFGC that poaching is against the law. Offenders must be treated as criminals, and not merely be assessed with small fines and once again allowed licenses in the following year.

Comments supporting a ban by opposing Option 1, the zonal approach:

  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed closures in parts of the state that see little or no bobcat take. Most of the areas that would remain open to trapping coincide with the very areas where trapping is heaviest. Although at first glance, zonal regulations may appear to be closing a large part of the state, the proposed zonal regulations offer little meaningful change to bobcat policies, while introducing complicated regulations and boundaries which will greatly increase administrative and enforcement costs.
  • National and State Parks, Monuments, and Refuges within open zones may become closed-off islands of bobcat habitat, that are likely to see heavy trapping at their peripheries. This will cut off connective linkages, and genetically isolate populations. It will also have adverse environmental effects of decimating bobcat populations in concentrated pockets across the state. The ecological concept of the dangers of “edge effect” also applies.
  • While we unilaterally embrace the ban option, even supporters of the zonal option object to aspects of its regulations. The California Trappers Association maintains that trappers may be “crowded” into areas where “a saturation of trappers already exists”, and professional lobbyists object to methods for determining boundaries. Neither side is happy with the zonal option.
  • Remind the Commission of the future costs and administration that the zonal management option will incur. AB1213 requires the Commission to consider protections for areas nominated by the public in 2016. This could include preserves, state conservancies, public or private conservation areas, land trusts, and critical areas such as linkages, state or bond-funded wildlife properties, or other any other areas in which the public sees fit to conserve bobcat populations. For details, consult maps in the regulatory package, and mention specific areas within the proposed open zones that you would nominate for closure, e.g. Mojave Preserve, Mono Lake Scenic Area, Prop 117 lands (tax funded habitat land), your favorite conservation area.
  • Should zonal management prevail, insist that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife develop a system by which trappers verify their records, and provide evidence that bobcats were trapped within open zones.

SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Letters via Email

Executive Director Sonke Mastrup

California Fish and Game Commission

1416 Ninth Street, Ste. 1320

Sacramento, CA 95814

fgc@fgc.ca.gov

Letters via Mail

Executive Director Sonke Mastrup

California Fish and Game Commission

P.O. Box 944209

Sacramento, CA  95814

Please separately send copies to info@projectbobcat.org, and put “Bobcat Regulations” or “AB1213” in the subject line.

THANK YOU!!

Working to bring about an overdue change in California’s bobcat management practices has not been easy. But with your efforts, we stand to be the group of citizens that could push California to the fore of lucid bobcat management policies. Our goal is to provide future generations with the opportunity to view this beautiful creature in the wild, and be incredulous over the fact that, as late as the 21st century, it was still lawful to kill as many bobcats as one could without any limits. Thank you again for you letters, calls, and petition signatures.