New Hampshire outdoorsmen could soon join their New England neighbors and enjoy opportunities to hunt and trap bobcats.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has proposed issuing 50 bobcat permits through a lottery process, according to a press release from the Sportsmen’s Alliance. The proposal came about after a collaborative study between the state and the University of New Hampshire, which concluded that a limited season would not adversely affect the state's bobcat population.
“The commission’s proposal would be the most conservative management of bobcats in the region and demonstrates the department’s cautious approach to the new season,” the release said. “Maine, Vermont, Quebec and even Massachusetts allow bobcat hunting, and none of them use a permit system.
“New Hampshire’s plan still promotes growth of the bobcat population while allowing a recreational opportunity for hunters and trappers who will play a role in managing the species.”
New Hampshire outlawed bobcat hunting in 1989 because of low bobcat populations. The Fish and Game Department said cat numbers have since rebounded.
The agency recently held two public hearings on the issue, drawing sharp opinions from both sides of the issue.
“We hope that you pass this so we can start taking cats and quickly show the public that there’s a lot more cats out there than they realize,” an unnamed plan supporter said at a Feb. 1 public hearing, according to an article on wmur.com.
“It’s simple,” another supporter said in the article. “If you don’t want to hunt them or trap them, don’t. But don’t stop those of us who enjoy this pastime and our heritage.”
Opponents quoted in the report, meanwhile, fell back on anti-hunting and anti-trapping cliches, calling the proposal “inhumane” or claiming — without evidence — that the state’s bobcat population was still recovering.
If approved, the proposal would take effect in December. The Fish and Game Commission will vote on the plan later in February.
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Brian Lovett, Realtree's news blogger, has been an outdoors reporter, writer, magazine editor and book author for 27 years. Spring turkey hunting and autumn waterfowling take up most of his outside time, but he also enjoys fishing, deer hunting and upland-bird hunting. Lovett lives in Oshkosh, Wis., with his wife, Jenny, and their retriever.