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DNR Proposes Allowing Trapping, Hunting Bobcats

Lindsey Wright

The Department of Natural Resources is proposing to change several fish and wildlife policies, but one in particular is causing heated controversy.

The organization wants to allow the hunting and trapping of bobcats, a species considered endangered in the state until 2005.

Several farmers and trappers spoke in favor of the proposal at a public meeting in Mitchell, Indiana Wednesday night, saying the population is out of control in the southern part of the state.

Indiana State Trappers Association Director Charles Davis says bobcats are wreaking havoc on farms and putting a dent in the turkey and rabbit population.

“This year, I quit trapping coyotes because I couldn’t run the traps for the bobcats,” Davis says. “I caught two bobcats and I only had 10 traps out.”

Others at the meeting called for more information, saying there is no clear evidence the bobcat population is robust enough to allow for hunting.

Bowden Quinn, the director of the Sierra Club’s Hoosier Chapter, agrees there’s not enough data. He also says the species can be beneficial by preying on rodents – and potentially attracting tourists. 

“How cool would it be if in Indiana, people had a chance to see bobcats when they went for a walk in the woods?” Quinn says.

DNR Furbearer Biologist Geriann Albers says estimating wildlife numbers is costly and often the numbers are wrong because populations are constantly changing. The DNR uses surveys instead.

“So the surveys we have and for bobcats we have two main ones and the third one we use to supplement it,” Albers says. “We look at how the population is changing and at what rate it’s changing.”

Albers says the trends point toward a thriving bobcat population in parts of the state and says, if approved, a hunting season would be tightly regulated and a quota would be in place.

Another public meeting is scheduled for March 22 at Mounds State Park in Anderson. Residents can continue submitting public comment online through March 23.

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