Contact: Andy Treharne, Western States Senior Director
On Thursday, May 9, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will consider a citizen petition to preclude the hunting or trapping of bobcats throughout the state.
Under existing state law, any interested person has the right to petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of any state rule, including fish and wildlife regulations that impact hunters, anglers, and wildlife managers. In this case, this well-intended process is being utilized to call into question scientific wildlife management practices that have served Colorado’s wildlife populations – including bobcats and other furbearers – well for decades.
Proponents of the petition have also used the process to question whether the commonly-used, science-based management of furbearers fits into the esteemed North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
In fact, science-based management of furbearers is very much entrenched within the North American Model. Prior to widespread regulation of hunting and furbearer trapping, many populations were greatly reduced or became locally-extinct by the mid-1800s. As these practices diminished, furbearer species returned to their ranges throughout the 20th century as conservation efforts led to the recovery of habitats that could sustain abundant populations.
However, this recovery also caused conflict as human population growth increased interactions with furbearers leading to associated issues such as exposure to disease and parasites, property damage, habitat damage impacting other species, and depredation. This required wildlife managers to make a choice between treating nuisance furbearer species as pests (potentially removing or destroying them) or using hunting and trapping to keep furbearer species at population levels that balance the needs of wildlife and humans. Fortunately, decision-makers and wildlife managers generally chose the latter, furthering the North American Model’s contention that wildlife is a public resource and regulated fur markets and harvest through modern regulated seasons did not pose a threat to furbearer species survival.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will consider the bobcat citizen petition on May 9 at 11:20 am during their meeting at the Courtyard Marriott in Grand Junction. Interested parties are encouraged to submit comments to the commission via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?