California bans bobcat trapping

The Commission heard comments from both proponents and opponents (such as the fur industry) and approved the ban in a 3-2 vote.California has become the first state to broadly prohibit commercial and recreational bobcat trapping.

In a 3-2 vote, the state Fish and Game Commission approved the ban, which had strong public support. The Commission heard comments from both proponents and opponents (such as the fur industry), but was ultimately swayed by the many thousands of vocal supporters who asked the Commissioners to protect the state’s wildlife.

California has a history of enacting progressive trapping restrictions. Recent efforts to restrict bobcat trapping in the state gained momentum with the passage of a 2013 bill authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom. This legislation, which was written to reinforce protections in regions where bobcat trapping had already been prohibited, directed the Commission to develop buffer zones around protected areas such as state parks where bobcats could not legally be taken with traps.

In issuing this mandate, the legislature gave the Commission substantial discretion, enabling it to “impose additional requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions” to protect the state’s bobcats.

As the Commission moved forward under this mandate, the public remained vocal in support of a broad ban on trapping, and the Commission ultimately determined that a statewide prohibition would best serve the public interest. The ban, which will likely take effect before trapping season, could save well over a thousand bobcats from languishing in cruel traps this year (nearly 1,300 met this fate last year).

California’s actions to protect its bobcats are heartening, and they reflect legislators’ (including federal legislators) increasing willingness to listen to public opinion when it comes to protecting wildlife and bringing an end to cruel trapping. 

--CB

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