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“The rate of expansion and the area currently occupied by bobcats as well as population size are still unknown,” and the population’s “viability is unclear … Little is known about the density and distribution of bobcats in Ohio, as well as the population trajectory, and which areas act as source populations. Such information is critical before decisions are taken on opening a trapping season and the maximum yearly take.”

Ohio Division of Wildlife Operational Plan (October 2017)

Why would ODOW change their minds on opening a trapping season 4 months after publishing the above report? This proclamation from the Ohio State Trapper’s Association probably had something to do with it. ODOW has reduced the amount of funding it provides to hunting and trapping associations and it would appear that they’re trying to make up for it by changing the rules to favor these groups.

In 2017, Ohio reported 499 bobcat sightings across 46 counties, mostly through trail camera pictures or videos. That figure includes 82 road-killed bobcats and 12 incidentally trapped animals, as well as other photographs and sightings. These numbers do not take into account that multiple photos could picture the same individual cat, which is likely as a bobcat’s territory can span 10-35 square miles. The numbers also don’t factor in the increase in trail camera use due to dropping prices on the technology.

In October of 2017 DOW funded a $245,000, four-year Ohio University study to estimate abundance, density and population viability. The study will use “non-invasive monitoring,” not carcasses from trap-kills. DOW has provided no evidence that any research proposal in the state requires carcasses beyond those obtained from road kill and “incidental” trapping (Which totalled 96 in 2017 alone).

Click here for more information on Ohio University’s project and the ODOW grant

ODNR’s proposal for a 2018 season would limit it from Nov. 10 through the end of January 2019, and contain it to the state’s southeastern region. The season would close when trappers hit a 20-cat quota in a block of southern counties and a 40-cat limit in an eastern patch. An unlimited amount of $5 bobcat permits will be sold, with the season being closed once the quota is reached. Trappers have 24 hours to report a trapped bobcat so the 60 cat quota could be exceeded.

Feature image courtesy of Debbie Steinhausser