With animal cruelty a hot-button topic globally due to the hunting kill of the lion in Zimbabwe, California made headlines when the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to ban bobcat hunting in the state. Incidents involving bobcats at the Joshua Tree National Monument also seemed to influence the vote.
Landowners found bobcat traps set illegally on their property. Their complaints put a spotlight on the practice of trapping, killing and skinning native cats to supply fur markets in China, Russia and Greece, even as other furred animals continue to be trapped commercially in the state.
Under state regulations, trappers must pay $113.75 and pass a test for a license to trap fur-bearing game animals — pine marten, fisher, mink, river otter, gray fox, red fox, kit fox, raccoon, beaver, badger and muskrat — as well as non-game animals including bobcats.
Before approving a statewide ban, the commission rejected a proposal that would have banned trapping around federal and state parks and other protected lands. It would have allowed trapping in designated zones covering about 40% of the state, including much of Southern California. It also would have required trappers to pay an annual validation fee of $1,325 in addition to a $35 shipping tag fee per animal.
But a majority of the commission doubted there were enough bobcat trappers left in the state to cover the costs of regulating their harvests. Estimated costs of administering and enforcing trapping programs across the state range from $212,000 to more than $600,000. “The 3-2 vote was recognition that the statewide ban was ultimately the most effective way to implement the policy the law represented,” said Assemblyman Richard Hershel Bloom (D-Santa Monica), author of the bobcat act and one of more than 100 public speakers at the commission hearing in Fortuna, Calif.