DEC preparing five-year management plan to maintain bobcat population in state
Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 6:48 am

The elusive bobcat is the subject of a proposed state Department of Environmental Conservation five-year management plan ready for public review and comment.

“The plan, once final, will guide the management of bobcat in New York State for the next five years, a wildlife species which continues to fascinate and intrigue both the hunting community and nature observers,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

The draft plan describes three primary goals for bobcat management:

· Maintain viable population levels and monitor trends in bobcat distribution and abundance

· Provide for sustainable use and enjoyment of bobcat by the public

· Minimize negative bobcat-human interactions.

While bobcats aren’t rare around here, catching sight of one is, especially in the daytime, which is why the photo sent to NorthCountryNow.com by Jeff Peters in DeKalb caught our eye.

“They are very secretive and aloof, and mostly nocturnal,” Steve Litwhiler, spokesman for Department of Environmental Conservation’s Watertown regional office, told us. “They’re not an endangered or threatened species, and their numbers are growing,” he said.

“Most people think of bobcats as a big-woods animal, but they are being seen more and more along the fringes of forests,” he said.

DEC staff worked with trappers and small game hunters to get their input for future management of bobcats, said DEC Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources Kathleen Moser.

“Input obtained from these groups was used by DEC biologists and managers to develop the recommendations and management actions contained in the draft plan,” she said.

The plan includes proposals to simplify hunting and trapping season dates by making them consistent throughout much of the state, and by establishing new hunting and trapping opportunities in central and western New York.

While hunters and trappers are the most common users of the bobcat resource, wildlife enthusiasts, nature photographers, and others also benefit from a healthy bobcat population, the DEC statement said.

As is the case with hunters and trappers, many wildlife photographers also view the elusive bobcat as being a “trophy” species and a rewarding challenge to capture on film. “As evidenced by the number of observation reports fielded by department staff, the public is very interested in bobcats and can play a role in their management by facilitating the collection of data on the species,” said DEC Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resource Director Patty Riexinger. “DEC strives to provide sound management for bobcat and other furbearer species for the benefit of the resource and the people of New York,” said Riexinger.

The draft management plan is available on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9360.html.

Comments may be submitted in writing to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Bobcat Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to [email protected] (type “Bobcat Plan” in the subject line).

The comment period on the draft plan runs through Feb. 16.