The Indiana Natural Resources Commission recently voted to preliminarily adopt rules to open a hunting and trapping season on bobcats.
Bobcats have been considered a protected species in Indiana. However, the Department of Natural Resources says recent research and trends in the number of bobcats reported to the IDNR (trail cameras photos, sightings, road-kills and other mortalities) indicate the bobcat population is expanding. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 more than 60 bobcat mortalities were reported each year. A majority were in the southern third of the state where the hills, mixed woodlots and reclaimed mines provide ideal habitat.
"From a wildlife perspective, which is our agency’s responsibility, the belief is that it is time for a population level that can sustain itself with some very limited, tightly regulated hunting and trapping being allowed," says DNR Communications Director Phil Bloom.
U.S. Humane Society Indiana Director Erin Huang, says the DNR has not conducted a current population count.
“We don’t know how many there are. There’s no count," Huang says. "It’s disappointing that the commission would even consider allowing a few trophy hunters and trappers to kill Indiana’s only native wild cats for nothing more than a trophy or to sell their fur. This is not what our state should be known for.”
The DNR says it will monitor the activity and take closely, and Bloom stresses that hunting would only be allowed in limited counties.
The bobcat hunting and trapping rule was part of a larger rules package. A public comment period is now open. A public hearing is likely to take place next year.