Saturday, August 28, 2010

Helping Bobcats: More Rabbits, New Rules

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Salt Lake City -- The number of bobcats in Utah may have bottomed out a year ago. But some trapping and hunting changes approved on Aug. 19 should help the small cats rebound.

The Utah Wildlife Board has also reopened six areas to beaver trapping.

All of the rules the board approved will be available in the 2010 – 2011 Utah Furbearer Guidebook. The guidebook should be available at  starting the week of Sept. 6.

The following is a summary of the furbearer action the board took:

Trappers will have more chances to trap beavers in Utah this season.

Board members closed three areas to beaver trapping. But six areas that were closed to trapping in the past have been reopened.

Biologists say the number of bobcats in Utah may have reached its lowest point since the Division of Wildlife Resources started keeping bobcat records in 1983.

But Justin Dolling, game mammals coordinator for the DWR, says more rabbits in Utah should lead to more bobcats.

“Bobcats prey mostly on rabbits,” Dolling says. “Unfortunately for the cats, rabbits go through a 10-year population cycle.”

Every five years, Dolling says Utah’s rabbit population bottoms out. Then the population builds again for the next five years. “Rabbit populations are starting their upward climb again,” he says. “That’s good news for the state’s bobcats.”

To give the bobcats some extra help, the board approved the following:

The number of bobcat trapping and hunting permits has been capped at 4,600. Each trapper and hunter may not have more than three bobcat permits. (Last season, each trapper and hunter could have up to four permits. Each permit allows a trapper or hunter to take one bobcat.)

The season will be one week shorter this year. It starts on Dec. 1, 2010. It ends about two months later, on Feb. 6.

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