A bobcat sits in a Joshua tree near Joshua Tree National Park. Photo courtesy of Annica Kreuter.

A bobcat sits in a Joshua tree near Joshua Tree National Park. Photo
courtesy of Annica Kreuter.

When Tom O’Key discovered a bobcat trap in his property, near Joshua Tree National Park, he assumed it had something to do with wildlife research. “And it turned out it wasn’t,” O’Key says, “It turned out that a trapper had come on my land and dug this place out under this bush and then busted branches off that bush to camouflage it.” O’Key left a note for the trapper and took the trap to a local newspaper. The trapper told the paper he’d put out 30 traps in the area and had caught five bobcats in a single night. O’Key says that sent the preservation-minded community into an uproar.

 

Bobcats tend to hang out around the rocky outcroppings in and near Joshua Tree National Park, where activist residents are pushing for a ban on trapping around the park and other natural areas in California. Photo courtesy of Annica Kreuter.

Bobcats tend to hang out around the rocky outcroppings in and near Joshua Tree National Park, where activist residents are pushing for a ban on trapping around the park and other natural areas in California. Photo
courtesy of Annica Kreuter.

 

Recently, many Joshua Tree residents have noticed that many local bobcats seem to have vanished. There’s a market for bobcat pelts in China, especially those from the lighter-colored cats in the desert. Each one can fetch up to $700 apiece. That price has gone up over the last few years as demand has increased in markets like China, where the fur is used for coats and slippers.

Through the end of February this past season, California Department of Fish and Wildlife numbers show trappers exported about 1,600 bobcat pelts from the state. That number is down from the more than 20,000 bobcats trapped in the late 1970s.

Within a month of the trap being found near Joshua Tree, Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced a bill that would ban bobcat trapping around national and state parks, preserves and other natural areas in California, starting the first of the year.

A bobcat rests near Joshua Tree National Park. Photo courtesy of Annica Kreuter, Joshua Tree resident.

A bobcat rests near Joshua Tree National Park. Photo courtesy of Annica Kreuter, Joshua Tree resident.

 The bill could mean an increase in license fees for trappers. The ban would still allow the trapping of nuisance animals to protect crops and other property. The bill would also require trappers to get written permission of landowners before setting traps on private land.

Mercer Lawing takes in his surroundings at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino County, near the mountains where he grew up hiking, trapping and hunting. Snow-like pollen drifts down from the trees. Lawing, who represents the California Trappers Association, says rather than a ban, it would be better to create a trapper education course, to teach trappers how to better interact in communities where trapping is a sensitive topic, such as in Joshua Tree. He suggests that both sides work together on a wildlife management plan that would let all sides on the trapping issue have a say.

 

  • JewelD

    The trapping numbers alone suggest that the bobcat population has already fallen almost 80% since the 1970s – not unlike the oceans being fished-out of their most popular species. CA needs bobcats both to keep rodents in check (their primary diet) AND as members of the eco-tourism economy – far more than the Chinese need fur coats!

    Please call your representatives TODAY to support the Richard Bloom Bobcat Protection Bill, AB 1213 – up for a floor vote this week!

    Info here: http://projectbobcat.org/swing-vote-ca-assembly-members-tuesday-may-28th/

  • roberto92252

    Bobcats don’t need “managing,” people like Mercer Lawing do. I live in Joshua Tree and I don’t want to interact with Mr. Lawing in any way. I want him and others who make money by killing wildlife to stay out of our town.

  • JewelD

    Love Joshua Tree? Well Joshua Tree’s bobcats need your help to stop being trapped into oblivion – sold to China for fur coats!

    Recent trapping numbers alone suggest that the bobcat population has already fallen almost 80% since the 1970s – not unlike the oceans being fished-out of their most popular species. California needs bobcats far more than the Chinese need fur coats! Bobcats keep rodents in check (their primary diet) AND are important members of California’s eco-tourism economy.

    Project Bobcat needs to keep the pressure on Brian Nestande TODAY. He’s the assembly rep for Joshua Tree and the surrounding areas. He’s “undecided” on the bobcat trapping bill, so we need to convince him to support it. Help him feel the DESERT HEAT TODAY!

    Your phone call takes 2 minutes: (916) 319-2042.

    Suggested script:
    Hello, I’m ______. As a fellow Californian I expect you to support he eco-tourism of the Joshua Tree area, and VOTE for the Richard Bloom Bobcat Protection Bill, AB 1213 – when it comes up for floor vote this week…

    If they ask you where you are from, and you’re not local, just let them know: you support the Joshua Tree area and wish to see the bobcats preserved.

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