Bobcats are gorgeous. Nobody eats bobcats. They are too small to pose a threat to cattle. And they are predators that keep small prey populations in check.
Even so, last year, at about this time, commercial trappers in California placed box traps outside of national parks and in other areas to lure bobcats (we had banned the use of steel-jawed traps and other body-gripping traps by ballot initiative in California in 1998). Once the trap door slammed shut, the bobcats were doomed. The trappers would return and then strangle, stomp, or bludgeon the confined, terrified animals. Trappers killed more than a thousand animals that way last year. Bobcat fur sells for as much as $700 a pelt to the international market – mainly China, Greece and Russia.
As of today, no more. The California Fish and Game Commission and the state legislature tag-teamed on a measure to ban any commercial trapping of bobcats. State Assemblymember Richard Bloom got an anti-trapping bill passed in 2013, and this summer, the California Fish and Game Commission officially took action to make it “unlawful to trap any bobcat, or attempt to do so, or to sell or export any bobcat or part of any bobcat taken in the State of California.”
This is a great triumph. Residents around Joshua Tree National Park had documented that commercial trappers were lining up on the park’s boundaries and literally luring bobcats out of the park – where they are protected – and into cage traps. That sort of thing was happening throughout the state.
Even before Assemblymember Bloom’s bill was enacted and also before the California Fish and Game Commission ending any commercial trapping, we had worked in 2012 to secure enactment of a bill introduced by then state Senator and now Congressman Ted Lieu, to ban any hound hunting of bobcats.
Piece by piece, we are building a body of law to protect these creatures from abuse. Governor Jerry Brown, by signing bills and appointing animal-friendly commissioners, helped us get there.
In 1990, we passed a statewide law to ban any trophy hunting of mountain lions, the bobcats’ much larger cat cousins. With the implementation of new bobcat protection laws, we have made California a much safer haven for wild cats in the state. That’s a wonderful outcome, and a reason to celebrate. Bobcat coats look best on their original owners.