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Bobcats making comeback
NH considering hunting and trapping season

11/05/15
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



A rebound in the bobcat population has prompted New Hampshire Fish and Game to consider lifting the ban that has kept the animal from being hunted since 1989, while local activists are trying to keep that ban in place.

The North American lynx, unlike the cougar, has a short tail, spotted fur and long hair on the sides of its face. For the past couple decades, it was a face very few Granite Staters ever saw. But bobcats are starting to make a comeback.
According to UNH, New Hampshire put an end to the bobcat hunt in 1989 when the cat population was estimated to have dwindled to 200. But recent studies by biologists suggest the number is now between 1,400 and 2,200. Just last year the estimates were between 800 and 1,400.
So, in January, Fish and Game requested its wildlife experts draw up a conceptual guideline for a bobcat season.
When she heard of the plans, activist Linda Dionne began coordinating a group of about 15 people who were against a bobcat hunt and formed Voices of Wildlife in New Hampshire. She’s in the process of filing the non-profit paperwork now.
“We’ve been going to Fish and Game meetings ever since January,” Dionne said.
So far, Dionne has collected more than 9,800 signatures from New Hampshire residents on an online petition and more than 22,000 signatures nationwide on a separate petition.
“People do not like the idea of the bobcat being hunted and trapped,” Dionne said. “They don’t want bobcats to be hounded, baited and trapped or hunted in any way. They believe, like we do, that bobcats provide us with an important service: they keep prey populations in check.”
Dionne says bobcats are not a nuisance to anybody.
Mark Ellingwood, the chief of the wildlife division at Fish and Game, says the original guideline he helped draft recommended 75 licenses for a bobcat hunt distributed in a lottery. He said the conceptual hunt and trap season would be between December and January and was modeled closely after the fisher cat hunt and trap season. 
By the time the commission voted to move forward with rulemaking on Oct. 14, the plan had changed to a lottery of 50 licenses. 
“They’re taking a conservative approach,” Ellingwood said.
Dionne, whose group protested outside the Oct. 14 meeting, says she’s afraid a conservative lottery at first would open the door to more licenses down the road.
“The moose hunt lottery, it began with 75 permits. In subsequent years, it went up to 675 permits, 500 permits in one year,” Dionne said.
Ellingwood says the rulemaking process will involve public hearings and a public input period, though they haven’t been scheduled yet. While nothing is set in stone, the commission’s decision to enter into rulemaking implies the department’s intent to start a bobcat hunt. Dionne plans on attending every hearing and encouraging residents to submit written comment during the input period. 





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