Does anybody in America realize that an elephant trampling to death a child on her way to school might be more tragic than a coyote eating a schnauzer or a bobcat taking a goldfish from the deck pond?
Bobcats are being widely hunted in America and I’d characterize it as outright slaughter with 10-15% of the population harvested annually. In Africa a global scandal develops every time an elephant is shot. How do you explain this to the parent of that African child?
Having emerged from the endangered species list in 1999 bobcats are heading straight back to it. Even the most progressive States are falling over each other to lift all the restrictions on hunting them.
It’s doubly confusing when you consider that mountain lions which are far more stable than bobcats have many more restrictions on their hunting.
And it isn’t just a matter of hunting. It’s the matter of public interest, where the public puts its money to target conservation.
I surveyed WWF, NationalGeographic for Kids, and the Humane Society, and only the Humane Society gave equal attention to bobcats as mountain lions.
African lions and elephants and American mountain lions — all very big animals — get by far and away the most money, attention and research. But the bobcat and coyote are considered vermin by most westerners and not-for-profit conservation organizations dare not broach the bias.
Only 19 states allow hunting mountain lions (Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.) Twice as many, 39, allow bobcat hunting.
In my own progressive state of Illinois, the argument is that the population is expanding too rapidly. Yes, just like chickadees when the West Nile Virus abates or grasshoppers when RoundUp is curtailed.
And who cares if the population is expanding too rapidly, anyway?! What do you think that bobcat will do: eat your dog?
But the fact is that all that’s happening with the bobcat population is that freed from its principal deterrent, hunting, it’s now trying to regain its natural balance in the ecosystem before it was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1980s.
In fact, most states haven’t even compiled the actual counts. They don’t even know how many bobcats they have.
I’d wager the bobcat population isn’t anywhere near its balance, yet. Bunnies, chipmunks and grey squirrels show population levels that are dangerously high. Why? Because their principal predators like coyotes and bobcats are being slaughtered.
Might this have something to do with the size of the animal? And does that then speak to the “courage” of the hunter? Kill something that’s easy, eh? Killing a bobcat is as easy as killing a feral cat.
I really think this is a combination of America’s now pathological obsession with guns (ergo, hunting vs armed robbery or murder) and lack of real courage. Killing is becoming fashionable, but there are a lot of amateurs and it’s damned more difficult to kill a mountain lion than a bobcat.
But what really gets my goat isn’t the American dalliance and current fashion with bobcats. It’s the irony that explodes into the mendacious hypocrisy of non-African “conservationists” obsessed with protecting African animals while either negligently or intentionally ignoring their own.
I imagine that issue ultimately comes down to marketing and money, something apparently carefully studied by the best of scientists, today.