By Joseph McDonald
Bobcats have remained an integral part of California’s native ecosystem and their dwindling populations deserve protection. The state legislator has introduced a new bill, AB 1254, which will set a new ban on the trophy killing of bobcats across the state of California. Mountain lions were protected from trophy hunting back in 1971, so we here at EPIC think it’s high time that bobcats are protected.
Bobcats have a special place in the hearts of those here at EPIC. Back in 2015, EPIC and other environmental groups worked together to gather a huge amount of support for a bill that banned the senseless trapping of bobcats. AB 1213 passed and trapping was permanently banned, but bobcats are still vulnerable to trophy hunting across the state.
Bobcats are important to California’s native landscape, and they support the health of the state’s natural ecosystems. The bobcat is a bit bigger than a normal house cat and feeds mostly on small rodents, which keep pest populations down. They are elusive animals and are too small to hunt large game or even threaten livestock or pets. Bobcat kittens are highly dependent on their mothers for up to 10 months, and when a mother bobcat falls to a trophy hunter, her kittens are likely to die from starvation or predation by other animals. Currently, they are freely hunted in 40 states, mostly for their unique spotted fur, and in California over the past ten years more than 10,000 bobcats have been killed. Hunting, combined with habitat loss, poses a serious problem for bobcat populations and California ecosystems.
We know Californians value bobcats— these small carnivores help keep pest populations low which in turn benefits farmers and local communities. The state banned mountain lion hunting as far back as 1971 and once again, the state has the opportunity to make history by continuing its path to protect another keystone species and promote the health of their natural ecosystems by putting an end to trophy hunting of bobcats.