Bobcat, Coyote Hunting Continues
Inside the Outdoors, January 08, 2010

A family of four recently stopped to visit over the Christmas holidays, journeying from the outskirts of Ligonier. As we sat and talked, one thing led to another as far as conversation goes. You might say, I perked up a bit when the topic centered on bobcats. I knew some had been living up on Laurel Ridge, but I never gave further thought that they may be taking up residence close to the homesteads.

I asked the young lady, “Have you actually seen them on your travels to your house?” “Oh yes,” she exclaimed, “right in front of us as we drove down the road.” She continued on, “I even so one standing by the side of the road starring at us as we drove by.” That certainly was an education.

Recently, I learned one can hunt and trap for these animals now.

For those hunters who applied and received permits back in September of 2009, they may continue to search out and hunt for bobcats. However, these sportsmen may do so in certain Wildlife Management Units only throughout the state of Pennsylvania. These include 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4D and 4E.

“The Pennsylvania Game Commission will use a permit-based quota system to regulate the harvest of bobcats,” the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest explains. “The permits can only be used in the WMUs mentioned above. The number of permits to be allocated each year is determined as the product of the harvest success rate (estimated from the previous year) and a harvest objective that is determined annually, based on habitat assessment, annual evaluation of abundance indices, and annual refinements to the PGC’s bobcat population model. This bobcat harvest season is consistent with the Game Commission’s bobcat management goal: To maintain, conserve and promote sustainable bobcat populations in regions of Pennsylvania that provide suitable habitat conditions, and to provide recreational opportunities for consumptive and non-consumptive users of bobcats.”

Bobcat hunting season began back on Oct. 24, 2009 and will end Feb. 20, 2010. Trapping for these animals began Oct. 25 and its season will conclude Feb. 21, 2010.

Those whom have harvested a bobcat must fill out a tag and report the kill to the PGC within 48 hours. The required information must include the date, time, sex, county, township, WMU and the harvest method. Attach it to the animal. If one intends to take it to a taxidermist, it is of utmost importance to keep the tag with the pelt. One may be contacted by an official from the PGC as to biological samples from the bobcat carcass. Keep in mind, the carcass should be kept in a cool, dry place for three days after harvest, the PGC reminds hunters. “If one is not contacted within this period,” the Digest advised, “one may discard the carcass in an appropriate manner.”

Discussing hunting for bobcats reminded me of a similar animal – the coyote.

A number of years ago, I was talking to Southwest Region’s Wildlife Education Supervisor Joe Stefko about coyotes. He related that many times in the evenings he could hear them calling out, interrupting the stillness of the cold, quiet evenings. Here again, I told him of my surprise, for I wasn’t aware that there would be that many in our neck of the woods.

In the Digest, there seemed to be detailed information concerning hunting for these animals. From my understanding, as it is described in the manual, a coyote may be taken outside of any deer, bear or spring gobbler season. One must have a hunting or furtaker’s license. If one is hunting for coyotes during archery deer, firearms or bear seasons, 250 square-inches of daylight fluorescent orange-colored material visible in a 360-degree area is an apparel requirement.

During spring gobbler season, persons who have valid tags and follow shot size requirements may harvest coyotes. These animals have been added to those that may be killed as part of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program.

“A furtaker’s license is required to trap coyotes and the trapping season opened Oct. 25 and extends through Feb. 21, 2010. Cable restraints may be used starting Jan. 1 through Feb. 21, 2010.”

So, what is such a device, you may ask yourself? They are mechanisms that hold animals without causing significant injury to them – a far cry from the tradition land snares. According to the PGC, a study was done to determine their effectiveness especially harvesting furbearers during late winter periods. They passed the test, so to speak.

“Cable restraints employ modern modifications, such as flexible cable, relaxing locks and breakaway stops and hooks to restrain animals without injury,” the Digest pointed out. They can be used “in areas frequented by domestic pets or other animals.

“Trappers capture foxes and coyotes by suspending a loop within a corridor used by the species of interest,” the booklet went on to explain. “The loop is usually held in place by a piece of light wire. As the animal enters the device, its own forward progress draws the loop tight around the body. The animal is then held alive when the trapper arrives to check the set.”

Cable restraints are only permitted during late winter periods for foxes and coyotes when freezing conditions render traditional methods ineffective.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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