California Assembly approves bill to counter bobcat trapping

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The California Assembly on Thursday approved legislation to protect bobcats from unlimited commercial trapping.

The bill, AB 1213, was introduced by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) in response to the recent discovery of bobcat traps set along the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park.

The price a trapper can get for a bobcat pelt has risen from about $78 in 2009 to more than $700 today. As a result, trapping of bobcats statewide has skyrocketed. In the region that includes Joshua Tree National Park, bobcat trapping increased more than 800% over the last two years.


“Current California laws treat bobcats with little regard,” said Bloom. “Allowing the unlimited take by commercial trappers whose sole purpose is to convert them into high-fashion coats is reprehensible and irresponsible and we must put an end to it.”

Bloom is also concerned about the lack of reliable population estimates for bobcats in California, which he said make it all but impossible for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine a sustainable harvest limit for the felines that scientists know as Lynx rufus.

The most recent survey of bobcats in Joshua Tree National Park was conducted in 1979.

AB 1213 would create a no-trapping zone around the national park and direct the Fish and Game Commission to create similar no-trapping zones around national and state parks, conservancies and other protected areas throughout California. The bill would also require trappers to obtain the consent of a property owner to trap on private property and direct the commission to set trapping fees at the level necessary to recover state costs associated with bobcat trapping.

“Bobcats are an irreplaceable part of California’s natural heritage, playing an important ecological role not just in the ecosystems they inhabit, but also in the state’s recreation, tourism and wildlife viewing industries,” Bloom said. “We must do all we can to protect one of our last native predators.”

The measure will now head to the California Senate, where it must pass before final approval by the governor.

The proposed legislation is supported by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation and environmental organizations.

“If and when this bill becomes law it will be an important step forward in bringing California’s horrendously antiquated trapping laws into the 21st century,” said Brendan Cummings, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s wildlands program and a resident of the community of Joshua Tree.