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Indiana Considers Bobcat Hunting, Trapping To Manage Species
Updated May 16, 2017 9:50 AM | Filed under: Natural Resources
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The bobcat, Indiana's most elusive predator. Photo provided by Indiana Department of Natural Resources

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Bobcats may be removed from Indiana's list of protected species to allow for hunting and trapping seasons in some parts of the state.

The Department of Natural Resources is considering the change because of a recent surge in the bobcat population. With the addition of a regulated hunting season, officials say, the growth would be managed appropriately. Right now, the numbers decrease only when bobcats die in accidental kills, like car crashes, or from old age, said Sgt. Paul Axton with DNR's District 7 in southwest Indiana.

Officials say the growth would be managed appropriately by enforcing limits for individuals and a statewide quota.

Bobcats became an endangered species in Indiana in 1969 and then a protected species in the state in 2005.

In the proposal, hunting and trapping would be allowed in the southwestern parts of the state, though specific counties haven't been selected. Limits for individual hunters and a statewide quota also would be enforced.

About 40 states allow some form of bobcat hunting, but some still oppose it. In New Hampshire, a recent proposal to award 50 bobcat hunting permits via a lottery drew so much criticism that it was withdrawn last month, according to the Burlington Free Press.

Still, Indiana officials think the bobcat population is something that needs to be addressed. They point to another potential benefit: curbing poaching. Illegal hunting and trapping is a Class C misdemeanor that can carry a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine in Indiana.

Officials in sheriffs' offices from Southern Indiana told IndyStar that they hear about bobcat sightings all the time, but haven't experienced any issues -- beyond car crashes, that is.

Many details need to be worked out in the DNR proposal because it's still early in the process, said Scott Johnson, wildlife science program manager. DNR will consider public comments over the summer before making a decision.

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