Archive for the ‘hunting’ Tag
October 28, 2013 by JAMES WILLIAM GIBSON
Graphic Photo: Vigilantes in Wyoming Enact “Justice” Against Wolves
“Fed Up in Wyoming” reads the caption under this stunning photograph posted on a hunter’s Facebook page (reproduced here under Fair Use). The photo is yet more evidence that, two years after political reactionaries led a successful campaign in the House of Representatives and then the Senate to remove the North Rocky Mountain gray wolf from the endangered species list, the slaughter of wolves continues to escalate as wolf hunters fall deeper in their paranoid fantasy that the wolf represents a liberal conspiracy against rural communities.
The Facebook page that originally posted the image belongs to two Wyoming hunting outfitters, Colby and Codi Gines. The Gines run CG Wilderness Adventures, headquartered in a highly remote part of Wyoming’s Bridger Teton National Forest, bordering on the southeast section of Yellowstone National Park. “Wyoming is God’s country, and we invite you to come see it for yourself,” says the Gines’ website.
Their invitation evidently does not extend to wolves. Driven extinct in most of the continental US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the wolf returned to the American landscape in 1995, when the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 66 wolves captured in the Canadian Rockies to Central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Conservationists saw as the return of the wolf as a crowning accomplishment to renew the wilderness, and millions of Americans came to celebrate the wolf’s comeback. But by 2009 a virulent opposition movement opposed to the wolf had formed. Made up of hunters and outfitters, ranchers, and far-right groups, these forces coalesced around a cultural mythology in which wolves became demons — disease ridden, dangerous foreign invaders — who served as icons of the hated federal government. (Read Cry Wolf, our in-depth report on this issue.)
With the Klan-like hoods and the ostentatious display of the American flag, the photo is a glimpse into the mentality of those behind the anti-wolf campaign. There is, apparently, a cohort of people who view the destruction of wild nature as something to be celebrated, something quintessentially America. They are play acting at both patriotism and rebellion. And, in their play-acting, they reveal a great deal about the paranoid fantasies that have gripped some people in the age of Obama.
The Facebook comments following the photo are especially revealing. Among those who LIKE this page is Sportsmen Against Wolves, a group whose “About” statement is, “Sportsmen against illegally introduced Canadian Gray Wolves.” Here’s one wolf-killing friend, J. Weeks, commenting on the photo: “Kill all federally funded terrorists. ” To some, the reintroduction of wolves represents Washington’s treason against civilization itself: “Yet another brilliant bleeding heart program…reestablish the bloodthirsty critter that every civilization from the dawn of time has tried to eliminate,” says Johnny W. To Sarah H., the wolf killing is just self-defense: “I imagine they don’t want any wolfies to come after them or their families!” Then Haines complained that only one had been killed — there “should be a pile of them tho!”
The white hoods, with their echoes of Jim Crow-era terrorism, were actually celebrated by some commenters. “Redneck KKK” wrote Austin T. One fan, Julia G., argued that the wolf hunters should be more brazen, posting, “Next time they go full REGALIA.”
For their part, the Gines prefer to call the hoods the sign of “Vigilantes,” a way of “Trying to make a statement!…Frontier Justice! Wyoming hunters are fed up!” John P. concurred, “Yeehaw…looks like modern day Wyoming rangers taking care of business!!!!!”
Some commenters suggested that the wolf hunters wore hoods to protect themselves from government persecution. One supporter of masked men posted, “I fully understand the masks…Keep on killing guys.”
It would seem that wolf hunting is the wildlife version of George Zimmerman’s vigilantism – self appointed keepers of order waging a battle against an imaginary enemy.
Or maybe it’s worse, and the wolf hunters with their KKK masks are more like shades of Timothy McVeigh. The cammo gear, the rifles – it’s as if the wolf hunters were fighting a guerrilla war against Washington. As if they were worried that at any moment a US Fish and Wildlife Service black helicopter would swoop down and a SWAT team emerge, assault rifles blazing.
But it’s a phony rebellion against a phantom menace. The wolves aren’t actually any danger to people or much of a threat to ranchers’ livestock. And the US government permits them to be killed. There’s no real transgression here requiring a mask. It’s all theater meant to self-impress.
In April, 2011, the House and Senate sponsored a “rider” on a federal budget bill that removed gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Here’s the very long story in short: Democratic Senator Jon Tester faced a rough challenge in the 2012 Montana election, and sacrificing wolves as expendable was deemed politically expedient to win the race. Wolf hunts renewed in Idaho and Montana that fall. Legal challenges by environmental groups against the delisting failed.
Wyoming took until 2012 to win full federal approval for a plan to declare the lands near Yellowstone a “trophy zone” with wolf quotas. In most of the state, wolves can be killed year round without limits. The Gines’ hunting operation is in “Wolf Hunt Area 3.” In late October they reported killing two wolves, filling its quota of three wolves (one had been hunted earlier). Whether the wolf in this photo is one of the three legally killed is not known.
The Northern Rockies have become an unsupervised playpen for reactionaries to act out warrior fantasies against demonic wolves, coastal elites, and idiotic environmentalists — the members of these latter two categories being “two-legged” wolves. The sheer extremity of the hatred shown to wolves, and the bizarre juxtaposition of the KKK-like hoods and American flag, plainly expose this movement for what it is: A scapegoating of the wolves by men and women who have succumbed to their own rage against imagined enemies. And while the failure of federal, state and local political leaders to denounce the anti-wolf movement illuminates their moral failure, history offers encouraging instances of public indignation creating change from below.
Take, as just one example, the eventual take-down of Senator Joe McCarthy. After years of cynical Red-baiting, including accusing high ranking military and intelligence officials of treason, McCarthy was eventually brought to a kind of justice. McCarthy accused the US Army of harboring Communists and, in June 1954, in the course of a televised Senate investigation of the Army-McCarthy conflict, McCarthy accused a young lawyer working for Army counsel Joseph Welch of being affiliated with communism. After McCarthy repeatedly pressed his accusations, Welch savaged McCarthy: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch’s indignation broke the spell McCarthy had cast upon the nation and ended his political career.
Perhaps this latest wolf snuff photo will bring a similar kind of justice and force the public to declare, in no uncertain terms, that wolf killing is un-American. Maybe it will force people to ask: When will this indecent killing come to an end?
P.S. This is what it would look like if wolf management was left to stateside hunter’s association groups and not in federal care! I’m in no way claiming that USFWS have no faults but I’m quite sure that the U.S. would have even more trouble with poaching, trapping etc, than they do today. This is my personal opinion. Colbby and Codi Gines Facebook page does not exist anymore, although their website does: http://www.cgwildernessadventures.com/index.php?page=home
I took it upon myself to write a shocontact infort e-mail to them in which I conveyed my own point of view to them and how utterly disgusting I think their line of business is. If there is anyone else out there who feel like doing the same you will find their contact info on the last page.
It makes me sick to see such a majestic animal murdered in cold blood!
October 21, 2016
A gray wolf rests in the snow. National Park Service photo
A former state wildlife biologist contends Wisconsin’s high wolf numbers may not be the driving factor behind a record 40 hunting dogs killed by wolves during the bear season that ended Oct. 11.
Timber Wolf Alliance Coordinator Adrian Wydeven, a former wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said the state saw fewer dogs killed by wolves the last time Wisconsin’s wolf population was this high.
“The previous high count of 815 (wolves) in 2012 had only seven dogs killed that year, and that was the lowest wolf depredation on dogs in about 10 years,” Wydeven said.
The number of wolves in Wisconsin grew about 16 percent this year with a minimum estimate of 867. Dave MacFarland, the state’s large carnivore specialist, said a number of things could have played a role in the number of dogs killed this bear-hunting season.
“Wolf population levels are one of them, but we don’t have hard information that we can point to and don’t want to speculate on what may have caused this change,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see if this repeats itself.”
Wydeven said a possible increase in hunting activities due to permitting changes last year may also be driving a rise in conflicts. Last year, lawmakers eliminated Class B bear licenses for those who wanted to assist hunters with setting baits or training.
“If we’re allowing much more open policy, allowing a lot more people to participate in that activity, that could account for the increases of hound depredations in Wisconsin,” Wydeven said.
But MacFarland said it’s not known what impact the permitting change may have had on hunter activity this year.
Wildlife officials have said wolves may also be more protective of their pups during bear season and the training of hunting dogs beforehand. Research also suggests the length of Wisconsin’s bear baiting season may play a role in higher numbers of attacks on hunting dogs than neighboring states. Bear hunters can set baits as early as mid-April in Wisconsin, whereas states such as Michigan don’t allow baiting until two weeks before the beginning of the season.
Wydeven said the longer baits are used, the more likely they’ll attract wolves.
“When hunters release their dogs at the bear baits to go chase bears, there’s a chance if wolves have recently visited the site, they could be sending their dogs after wolves,” Wydeven said.
Joseph Bump, an associate professor with Michigan Technological University, was lead author of a 2013 study that found hunting dogs were up to seven times more likely to be killed by wolves in Wisconsin than in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“If stakeholders are sincerely interested in decreasing wolves killing hunting dogs, then there’s good wildlife science to suggest that both the timing and length of the bear baiting season is a factor that should be on the table for discussion and potential adjustment,” Bump said.
Bump is continuing research in Michigan on how frequently species other than bears visit bait sites. He expects those findings will become available next year.
Bear hunters in Minnesota are not allowed to use dogs while hunting.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard in the Twin Ports at 91.3 FM or online at wpr.org/news.
September 19, 2016 by Source
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Majority of 17,301 public comments opposed to hunting and trapping threatened Algonquin wolves
MONTREAL– Last week, as the hunting and trapping seasons opened, the Ontario government announced its decision to strip at-risk Algonquin wolves of protection from hunters and trappers across the majority of their range. Ongoing hunting and trapping, the primary threats to the species, caused the wolves’ at-risk status to deteriorate to Threatened on June 15th 2016. A mere 154 adult wolves are left in Ontario. Conservation and animal rights groups from across North America are condemning the decision.
Ontario claims their decision is justified due to the inability of hunters and trappers to differentiate between coyotes and Algonquin wolves. Without genetically testing each animal killed, the government cannot track how many Algonquin wolves are killed. There is no limit on the number of wolves that can be trapped and hunting bag limits are absent in some parts of the wolf’s habitat.
Hunting and trapping were banned in the townships surrounding Algonquin Provincial Park in 2001 due to overwhelming public concern for the park wolves. This year, public concern has been ignored – the majority of the 17,301 comments submitted in response to the proposals opposed the regulation changes.
“The Ontario government is peddling their decision as improved protection for the wolves because they have closed hunting and trapping in three additional areas bordering provincial parks,” said Hannah Barron, director of wildlife conservation, Earthroots. “However, these new closures are too small to protect Algonquin wolf packs, let alone individual animals capable of traveling hundreds of kilometres in their lifetime. Any wolf outside of these closures can be killed.”
“Allowing these rare wolves to be killed is not only inhumane and shameful, it can have unintended consequences for farmers and the animals in their care. A growing body of research shows that hunting and trapping can increase future livestock depredation by causing social chaos amongst wolf and coyote populations,” noted Gabriel Wildgen, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada.
“If the government was actually serious about protecting farmers’ livelihoods, they would subsidize non-lethal strategies to prevent depredation in the first place. This decision not only endangers a threatened wolf species, it also fails the farming community.” remarked Lesley Sampson, executive director of Coy ote Watch Canada.
“By allowing hunters and trappers to kill Algonquin wolves across the majority of their extent of occurrence, Ontario’s message to the American people and their own constituents is that species-at-risk recovery is not a priority,” stated Maggie Howell, director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “This decision is in direct contravention to its ministry’s mandate.”
October 26, 2015 SOURCE
Good news for Alaska’s Wildlife and Wolves
Over the past decade, the National Park Service has objected to at least 50 proposals by Alaska wildlife officials to liberalize the killing of predators within national preserves. The conflict can be traced back to 1994, when the Alaska Legislature passed a law mandating that the Board of Game pursue intensive management “to maintain, restore, or increase the abundance of big game prey populations for human consumptive use,” according to a 2007 article in the Alaska Law Review by University of Alaska, Fairbanks, professor Julie Lurman and NPS subsistence manager Sanford Rabinowitch.
“Predator control”, which aims to suppress numbers of bears, wolves and coyotes in order to boost prey species, including moose and caribou, is incompatible with the Park Service’s mandate to preserve “natural ecosystems,” including at its 20 million acres of national preserves in Alaska (Sport hunting, illegal in national parks, is allowed in Alaska’s national preserves under a law Congress passed in 1980).
NPS first proposed a permanent ban on three predator hunting practices in 2014. These practices were illegal under Alaska law until approval (several years ago) by the state’s Board of Game. That proposal bans the baiting of brown bears, the hunting of wolves and coyotes during the denning and pupping period, and the use of artificial light to shoot black bear sows and cubs at their dens, a technique known as “spotlighting.”
Now, after a long and heated battle, National Park Service will implement tighter restrictions on sport hunting with the closure regulations become effective Nov. 23, and new hunting regulations effective January 1st of next year. State officials, needless to say, are not pleased.
The new restrictions include these changes to sport hunting regulations on national preserves:
*NPS prohibits taking wolves and coyotes during the denning season.
*NPS prohibits the taking of any black bear using artificial lights at den sites including cubs and sows with cubs.
*NPS prohibits taking brown and black bears over bait.
*NPS will not allow hunters to use dogs to hunt black bears, while it is permitted by state rules.
*NPS will not allow hunters to shoot swimming caribou from a boat or shoot caribou that have emerged from the water onto the shoreline while the hunter is still on the boat, though state rules permit both.
Featured Graphic: National Parks Conservation Association
The manipulation of natural population dynamics conflicts with National Park Service law and policy. National park areas are managed to maintain natural ecosystems and processes, including wildlife populations and their behaviors. While sport hunting is allowed by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in national preserves in Alaska, NPS policies prohibit reducing native predators for the purpose of increasing numbers of harvested species.
For years, the National Park Service had repeatedly requested the State of Alaska and the Alaska Board of Game to exempt national preserves from state regulations that liberalized hunting methods, seasons and bag limits for predators. State officials denied those requests, as well as also objecting to the use of repeated temporary federal closures.
“Sport hunting” occurs on about 38 percent (more than 20 million acres) of the land managed by the National Park Service in Alaska. In these national preserves, sport hunting generally occurs under state regulations. Though a large majority of state sport hunting regulations would remain unchanged, this is an enormous step in the right direction and puts a stop to these abhorrent acts of inhumanity in and around Alaska’s national parks and preserves.
National Park System areas, including preserves, already prohibit other predator control actions, such as aerial shooting of wolves, a horrific practice which the State of Alaska conducts as part of its statewide wildlife “management” program.
October 05, 2015 Source
Ever since the death of Cecil the lion, the world’s been looking at trophy hunting a bit more closely. While many people have condemned the practice as cruel, ardent big game hunters have stood up to defend it, arguing that it’s a selfless act of conservation and that both animals and local people benefit from the hobby.
But with wildlife populations in Africa continuing to plummet — and with iconic species at risk of disappearing in our lifetime — these defenses don’t hold up. Here’s why.
“The money goes to local communities.”
Big game hunters say they help support local communities and conservation efforts by paying for big game hunts. However, while hunters pay roughly $200 million each year for big game hunts in Africa, only around 3 percent of those funds go to local communities, and the amount dedicated to conservation efforts is nearly negligible. The overwhelming majority of hunting fees ends up lining the pockets of middlemen, large companies and local governments.
“Hunting helps wild populations.”
Big game hunters argue that killing can help a species by removing older animals from the population, or say that they trust governments to set sustainable hunting quotas.
Unfortunately, in practice these arguments don’t hold up. For one, some governments are more interested in how much a dead lion can bring them than in establishing sustainable hunting limits. For example, there are around 20,000 to 35,000 wild lions left in Africa, depending on whom you ask, and big game hunters legally kill around 600 each year. That’s an annual population loss of 2 to 3 percent, which is entirely unsustainable, even if you don’t add in deaths due to poaching and livestock protection.
And while nature likes to pick off the weakest members of a population, big game hunters target the largest, strongest members of a population. For lions, that means the male pride leader; for elephants, the oldest elephant with the biggest tusks. Killing these animals, who play a crucial role in their societies, puts the rest of their families at risk.
For example, killing a male lion with an impressive mane leaves his fellow pride leaders open to challenges from other males. If a new male does come in, they could kill an entire generation of cubs, which means that the permit for one lion hunt leads to the death of several animals.
And the loss of older elephants means leaving male or female youngsters without guidance — which can actually lead to so-called teenage delinquents who are more likely to have negative interactions with humans, and therefore be killed.
The loss of any animal also means the loss of any offspring they could have parented, a knock to conservation that goes far beyond taking just one animal out of the population. And while some proponents of big game hunting advocate for only killing animals who have already contributed their genes to the population, most animals will continue to propagate until they die.
Of course, the biggest rebuttal to the hunting-helps-populations argument is in the numbers. Lions have lost 95 percent of their population since the 1940s. The African elephant population has dropped from several million at the turn of the century to roughly 500,000 today. During the past century hunting has been the primary — if not only — method of conservation, but the perilously low numbers of these animals proves that hunting is ineffective as a conservation method.
And even with these reduced populations, trophy hunters still kill around 105,000 animals in Africa every year, including 600 elephants and 800 leopards, at a time when every individual is crucial to the survival of the species.
“Canned hunting helps repopulate animals.”
Some hunters tout canned hunting — an unsportsmanlike practice in which lions and other animals are bred in captivity then released into pens where they can’t escape so hunters can shoot them — as a sustainable alternative, arguing that canned hunting incentivizes captive breeding, which can be used to repopulate wild populations.
But animals bred at canned hunting facilities are completely unsuitable for release. Taken away from their mothers at just a few days old and raised by humans, the lions are incapable of surviving on their own. Many of them are inbred, which means breeding with wild lions could weaken the species’ gene pool. And releasing a captive-bred lion into wild lions’ territory could lead to fighting, upsetting the delicate balance — and the safety — of existing prides.
“Hunting helps protect locals.”
Local communities often find themselves at odds with African wildlife. Elephants destroy crops; lions and other predators can target people or livestock. These animals are often killed — and tourism hunting is often encouraged — in the name of protecting humans from African wildlife.
But as human lands continue to increase, animals continue to be pushed into smaller and smaller territories. In many cases these negative interactions are the result of animals simply trying to survive. Iconic African wildlife is at risk of disappearing, and the solution is to learn to live with animals, not keep killing them.
“It’s an industry that Africa couldn’t do without.”
While trophy hunting does bring in some capital to African countries, it makes up as little as 1.8 percent of tourism revenues. The majority of tourists come to see Africa’s wildlife, not kill it. And if big game hunting continues to deplete that wildlife, it could take down the other 98 percent of Africa’s tourism income.
An individual animal, particularly if it’s a member of the more iconic species, is worth far more to a country alive over the course of his lifetime than dead. Need proof? Look at Botswana. Beginning in January 2014, the country banned almost all hunting after comparing the conservation cost of big game hunting with the income generated from photo tourism: The photo tourism season is longer, makes better use of animals and employs significantly more locals. In the first year of the ban, the country brought in around $344 million from nonlethal tourism.
Of course, changes can take getting used to, but in an age when iconic species are at risk of being lost forever, killing any individual animal for sheer pleasure — especially in the name of conservation — is highly counterproductive.
To find out more, watch Blood Lions on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.
The views expressed here are The Dodo’s and do not necessarily reflect those of MSNBC.
By Ameena Schelling – Email: email@example.com – Twitter: @amschelling
From Summit County Citizens Voice August 19, 2015
South Dakota a hot spot for wolf deaths
FRISCO — Since the Dakotas are sandwiched between Montana and Minnesota, it’s probably not completely surprising that wolves turn up there from time to time.
But the latest sighting of what certainly looks like a wolf has spurred a call for more education and public outreach to prevent the animal from being shot, either by accident or purposefully by over-eager hunters.
Other wolves have been shot been shot and killed in South Dakota in recent years, as reported by newspapers there, and the Center for Biological Diversityhas also tracked the fate or wolves that wandered out of the northern Rockies.
“Most hunters, just like other folks, try to do the right thing,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “They appreciate wolves’ important role in natural ecosystems. We hope this wolf will continue to enchant viewers and contribute to recovery of his species,” Robinson said, reacting to the most recent sighting in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Wolves are larger and appear bulkier than coyotes, with longer legs and more rounded ears. In two recent wolf killings in Colorado and Utah, hunters said the mistook wolves for coyotes — one of the reasons that wolves are having a hard time re-establishing populations in new areas.
Wolves are protected under the Endangered Species Act throughout the United States except in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and portions of Utah, Oregon and Washington.
The Center for Biological Diversity has urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help educate the public about the difference between wolves and coyotes — and about the fact that wolves are protected under federal law — in order to enhance protections for the animal seen in the recent video. So far the Service has declined to take action.
Moreover, despite the steady push by gray wolves to expand into areas they historically inhabited, instead of expanding public education and wolf-management programs the federal agency has proposed stripping their Endangered Species Act protections across most of the country.
“Removing wolves from the endangered species list would increase the number that are killed, confine wolves to artificial islands of habitat where they risk becoming inbred, and cut off the benefits these beautiful animals provide to ecosystems, wild places and other animals in the food web,” said Robinson. “The antidote is twofold: More room in people’s hearts for wolves, and keeping them protected under the law.”
While the wolf restoration effort in the northern Rockies has been successful, the predators haven’t been able to recolonize much territory outside that area even though they once roamed widely across most of North America.
Scientists say it’s critical to maintain linkages between wild wolf populations for the long-term genetic health of the species. The Black Hils region is not mapped as potential wolf habitat, primarily because of the road density in the area, according to Robinson.
The Center for Biological Diversity has documented the fates of 56 wolves known to have dispersed from established recovery areas since 1981. Forty-eight of those were found dead, including 36 by gunshot, including five in South Dakota between 1981 and 1991.
The other 12 wolves among the 48 that died included four in South Dakota: two with the causes of mortality not disclosed, one hit by a vehicle and another thought to have been hit — in 2001, 2006 and two in 2012. Genetic tests on the 2012 animals determined that one was from the northern Rockies and the other from the upper Midwest.
By Bob Berwyn
From Kcet August 5, 2015 by Chris Clarke
A bobcat stakes out a gopher hole in Marin County | Photo: Len Blumin/Flickr/Creative Commons License
The California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to ban bobcat trapping everywhere in California. The vote, which took place at the Commission’s regular meeting in Fortuna, caps a controversy that started when a Joshua Tree resident found traps illegally placed on his land less than a mile from the National Park.
Concern over the threat to bobcats in Joshua Tree and elsewhere in the state prompted the California Legislature to pass AB1213, the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013, which directed the Fish and Game Commission to establish trapping-free buffer zones around national parks, wildlife preserves, and other areas where trapping is already prohibited.
After studying a pair of proposals for those buffer zones’ boundaries, the Commission voted in a narrow majority to adopt so-called “Option 2,” which essentially declared the entire state a buffer zone in which trapping is prohibited.
California bobcats had come under increasing pressure from trappers in recent years as acombination of fashion trends and illegality of other cat furs increased the global price for bobcat pelts.
“The vote today is historic and shows California’s national leadership in wildlife protection,” said Camilla Fox of the group Project Coyote, which had worked to promote both the Bobcat Protection Act and the more extensive buffer zone proposal. “This victory will help protect California’s native bobcats from the insatiable international fur market where individual bobcat pelts can sell for as much as $1,000 per pelt.”
The vote came after Fox delivered a petition with more than 30,000 signatures in favor of a total ban.
Observers had been far from certain about the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, as two of the Commissioners who voted for the statewide ban — Anthony C. Williams of Huntington Beach and Eric Sklar of St. Helena in Napa County — were attending their first meeting as Commissioners, and thus had little track record on wildlife issues. They were joined in their vote for a statewide ban by Commission president Jack Bayliss of Los Angeles.
Commissioners Jim Kellogg of Contra Costa County and Jacque Hostler-Carmesin of Humboldt County voted against the statewide ban.
Though the number of bobcat trappers in California has been steadily dwindling since the 1970s as the sport goes out of fashion, individual trappers had been taking more cats in recent years as a partial result of the boost in the potential financial gain from bobcat pelts. Trapping advocates opposed both the statewide ban and Option 1, which would have banned trapping in about half the state. The California Trappers Association had asked the Commission to delay a decision until the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife could complete a bobcat population census, which hasn’t been done for 36 years.
Wednesday’s vote protecting all of California’s bobcats wasn’t what Tom O’Key imagined when he found a trap in 2013 that had been illegally placed in a rock pile on land he owns near the National Park in Joshua Tree. His find, reported to local media in the area, generated a firestorm of opposition to trapping. A local group, Project Bobcat, organized to support a legislative ban, and a broad coalition of groups from Project Coyote and the Center for Biological Diversity to national humane groups lent their full support.
Reached in Fortuna in the wake of the vote, O’Key admitted to KCET that he was celebrating. “I feel liberated,” he said. “I never had an inkling that it all would end up this way.”