Bobcat Population Growing
Inside the Outdoors, November 29
, 2013

I often get one question directed to me particularly as I am cabbed through the mountains of Laurel Highlands – “Do you know if there are bobcats around here?” The question has an affirmative answer – “Yes,” but more so, their population is on the rise so stated Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in Bolivar.

And they are not only is small areas, but everywhere, he said. Surprising, he commented, “We have always had them. We have a lot of bobcats around here,” Fazi said, probably more than any place else. Their diet consists of mammals, squirrels, not to mention peoples’ pets.”

So today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about them and one subject I’ve never written about before – trapping. The reason – the traps at one time were barbaric, in my opinion. Not today. They are as humane as can be. “This modern foothold works very well even though it is still steel it holds the animals in place without harming them,” Fazi said.

Now, I realize furtaking season doesn’t start until Dec. 21 for bobcats, but it goes hand in hand (foot in foot?) if I am going to write about the means to harvesting animals during this season. It also becomes significant I introduce animals that are taken via this means – bobcats and coyotes.

Fazi educated me to the fact that cable restraints are even used to trap and transfer animals to other locals, he said. That ought to prove that their usage has come a long way since the olden day devices.

Defined, “A cable restraint is a highly specialized trapping device designed to refrain animals such as bobcats, coyotes, and foxes without injury. They employ modern modifications, such as flexible multi-strand cable, relaxing locks and breakaway stops and hooks to restrain animals in winter conditions where traditional winter methods are less effective,” according to the PGC’s hunter’s digest.

The description continues by stating, “Cable restraints have been field tested by experienced trappers during legal land trapping seasons in Wisconsin, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Animals harvested during these studies were sent to wildlife veterinarians at the University of Wyoming, who used international guidelines to examine and evaluate them for capture-related injuries. The animal welfare performance of cable restraints was outstanding,” it stated.

It must be noted, persons applying for a furtaker license (1) must present to an issuing agent, evidence the applicant has held a furtaker license issued in Pennsylvania or another state or nation; (2) a certificate of training (3) an affidavit the applicant completed a voluntary trapping course sanctioned by the Commission, or (4) the applicant has previously hunted or trapped furbearers within the last five years. These provisions do not apply to persons under 12 who trap furbearers under direct supervision of a licensed adult furtaker at least 18 years old.

Of course, we all know about the other problem predator, the coyote. I use the word “problem,” not because they are truly pests in every sense of the word, but here. I overheard a woman cab passenger talking to someone on her cell phone that she had hired a gentleman from Derry to get rid of the coyotes in and around her property in the housing complex behind the Arnold Palmer Cancer Complex near the Inn at Mountain View.

Here again, contacting Fazi, pretty much the same information was shared. Yes, they are on the increase, there are plenty around and popular, to say the least. One of the differences now is the fact that there is an unlimited season one can trap or hunt for them and even be harvested on a Sunday.

And no, for the last time, insurance companies didn’t bring these animals in to diminish the deer popular, a long-time myth that people still don’t want to drop.If someone would have told us years ago, we would be keeping track of our kids via small instruments called cell phones, many of us would probably have said, “Not in my life time…,” and here we are seeing it take place on a daily basis.

If we were to say researchers are doing the same thing with deer – tracking deer using modern day technology, texting daily, what would we say to that – the same thing – “Not in my life time?” Well, here we are, deer are actually wearing GPS radio collars. Using these modern devices, researchers can keep track of deer, instantly finding out their location. In so doing they will be able to make recommendations as to animal populations in certain areas.

As part of a Deer Forest Study, a cooperative research project is being conducted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and a host of other partners during the two-week deer rifle season. Researchers will be able to text these animals every 20 minutes to find out needed information.

What will be next? I’m sure there will be those who’ll proclaim “not in my life time…” and be equally surprised.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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