There will be no trapping of Ohio’s bobcats — at least for the time being, following action by the state wildlife council on Thursday.
In a 6-1 vote, council members postponed action indefinitely on a rule that would have added bobcats to the list of furbearing animals open to trapping in Ohio.
Three other proposed trapping rules that included references to bobcats were also postponed, pending re-writes by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Bobcat trapping opponents called the vote a temporary victory.
“It’s a victory for now,” said Dr. Jeff Crecelius. “It buys us some time.”
The Vinton County pediatrician spoke against the trapping rule at the council’s April meeting.
“It’s a great day for democracy and humanity in Ohio,” he added.
Crecelius noted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources received more than 8,000 comments against bobcat trapping and only a handful in support.
The agency’s wildlife division had proposed a limited trapping season on bobcats in 23 southern and eastern Ohio counties, saying the secretive and elusive furbearers had rebounded in the area.
Zone B, made up of 12 southeast counties, would see a quota of 20 harvested cats. Zone C, made up of 11 more-southern counties, would see a 40-cat harvest. The limited seasons would run from Nov. 10, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2019. Bag limit would be one cat per trapper. The season would end once the quota was reached in each zone.
Representatives of state and national trapping organizations argued a 60-cat bag would not impact overall numbers.
But, the proposal drew outcries from animal rights and anti-trapping groups. Many voiced their complaints at the council’s April meeting.
Several, like Crecelius, argued research on Ohio’s bobcat population is incomplete and the proposed trapping was simply for “recreation” and was not aimed at population or nuisance control.
In moving to postpone the decision on Thursday, wildlife council member Jim Samuel echoed many of those comments.
Samuel said trapping should await findings of a study by Ohio University into bobcat population numbers. That study will conclude in 2020. He also noted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had only recently hired a new furbearer biologist — an expert in bobcats. The position has been vacant for a year.
A majority of council members appeared to agree with Samuel. Their vote drew muffled cheers from the audience.
Thursday’s meeting had the potential of turning contentious.
Forty-five people signed an attendance roster. Many appeared to be issue opponents.
Uniformed wildlife officers stood guard both inside and outside the meeting room. A lone protester waved a highway sign in opposition to trapping for the benefit of passing motorists.
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for Advocate.
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