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To many Illegal trappers, not enough bobcats

I am writing this letter as a licensed fur buyer, trapper and licensed taxidermist since 1966. I have had growing concerns regarding the illegal trapping of the high dollar bobcat/lynx cat. I feel that there is a way the FWP could easily make it next to impossible for those illegal trappers to continue as they have year after year. The first bobcats that I purchased went for $3 each, big and small. At the upcoming fur auction, with a valid tag, the top lynx cats (we call the bobcat) are expected to exceed $1,000, or more than the price of a beef, thus making illegal trapping more and more tempting, even for the honest sportsman. Here is what is going on, when Region No. 1 fills their quota, many of the trappers just keep on trapping, they can say they are trapping fox or coyotes, when a bobcat is trapped in these so-called sets, they turn them in as trapped in Region 2 or 3; quickly filling the quotas in those areas. A warden made the comment that there are about five cats a day turned in to Region 2, until Region 1’s quota is filled; then Region 2 jumps to nine or 10 per day.

Even when all regions’ quotas are filled, the poachers keep right on trapping; skin their bobcats, discard the bulky carcass, freeze only the skull and pelt, to be turned in the next year’s trapping season, for tagging; as if it has just been trapped. Some wardens, call those early season cats “freezer bobcats” knowing they were illegally trapped the year before, but hard to prosecute.

If the wardens were to start photographing the eyes on the suspected “freezer bobcats” they would see that they are very distinctly milky white and ugly; the eyes on a fresh unfrozen skull will stay clear and colorful for days. Also, the fresh unfrozen cats are stiff with rigor-mortis; once they have been frozen and thawed they become obviously limber. If the trapper had to present the whole unfrozen carcass to the warden (for viewing) within 24 hours; the illegal “freezer bobcats” would be next to impossible to tag, and most trappers would not chance crossing state lines to tag and sale, for fear of the federal Lacey Act.

The FWP has the ability and I would trust the concerns to make it next to impossible for the poachers to tag and sell their high dollar pelts. We need your help ASAP to get this simple job done: contact your local biologist and game commissioners to enact the following solutions.

1. Solution: Bobcats must be turned in with its entire carcass within 24 hours, (instead of the current 10 days) to a local warden that will be required to inspect the eye color for time of kill; considering carcasses with snare mark damage that may have been frozen in the snare.

2. All trappers will need to apply in the district he wishes to trap in and then trap only in that district just as is with most other game.

3. Limit the amount of bobcats trapped from the now seven down to two.

Larry Rose