There are several reasons why California has banned the trapping of bobcats. The underlying and most important reason is a change in attitude by the public to this outdated, diminishing business. Trapping bobcats is a cruel process and the “harvested” product, the animal’s skin, is sold to supply fur markets in Russia, China and Greece. That unpleasant process does not sit comfortably with the attitudes of the majority of 21st-century Californians.
The trapping, killing and skinning of precious wildlife and beautiful animals is quite frankly a thing of the past. Californians realise that. Gradual pressure has been applied to bobcat trappers in California since the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 was enacted in response to illegal trapping on private land on the borders of Joshua Tree National Park. The public were outraged. The Bobcat Protection Act 2013 banned trapping in those areas and also increased the fees that trappers had to pay in order to fund the enforcement of the law.
A reduction in the number of bobcat trappers in California resulted in their inability to pay sufficient fees to fund the enforcement of the Bobcat Protection Act 2013. The consequence of this is that it encouraged a statewide ban because the industry, from the perspective of the authorities, was no longer viable. This is one stated reason for the ban.
Another reason, and this is an interesting one, is that the California Fish and Game Commission decided that they could not grant licences to trap bobcats unless they had accurate information regarding their population size in California. They required this information in order to be satisfied that the trapping of the bobcat would not endanger their existence in the wild in their state. It appears that the Commission was not in a hurry to work out population sizes! It seems they had made up their mind that the end was nye for bobcat trapping in the state.
In the past, the reasoning was that if there was no evidence that trapping was causing a problem then let the trappers continue to kill the animals. You can see the change in attitude. There is a greater concern about bobcat conservation in California today than there was in the past and this pressure on the authorities ultimately comes from the citizens of California.
“Before we make a decision to allow destruction of a natural resource, we should have the science to support that as a practice,” said Commissioner Anthony Williams.
The response from the California Trappers Association predictably was:
“Bobcats are the most widespread and adaptive carnivores in the state next to coyotes…There is no evidence that a ban on bobcat trapping is needed to protect bobcat populations.”
For me, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) sums up the underlying reason behind these progressive changes concerning bobcat trapping in the state when he says:
“It also demonstrated a growing awareness about how we treat native wildlife in California…There’s a big difference, for example, between hunting game animal and taking it home to eat it, and trapping an animal for commercial purposes and doing it in a way that causes a long painful death.”
In addition, Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity said:
“Today, California stepped into the 21st-century of wildlife management…We place a higher value on native wildlife live rather than as dead commodities.”
A trappers association spokesperson blamed animal rights activists, stating that the commission had become a political arm of the activists. A weak argument. A desperate argument by somebody involved in a dying practice and outdated method of making a living; one rooted in the past which can no longer be justified in a world which increasingly puts unbearable pressure on the habitats of wildlife species due to uncontrolled and rapid human population growth.
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