545 Bobcat Permits To Be Offered

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In keeping with a harvest objective of 175 bobcats, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross today announced the agency will award 545 permits for the 2002-2003 bobcat hunting/furtaking seasons at a public drawing in its Harrisburg headquarters on Friday, Sept. 13.

"Based on the harvest success rate of the 2001-2002 season and our survey of unsuccessful bobcat permit holders, we plan to conservatively increase the number of permits allocated in order to move closer to our harvest objective of 175 bobcats," Ross said.

Last year, the Game Commission awarded 520 permits from an applicant pool of nearly 3,100. In 2000-2001, the first bobcat season in 30 years, the agency awarded 290 permits from an applicant pool of 3,276.

During the 2000-2001 season, 58 bobcats were harvested throughout Furbearer Management Zones 2 and 3. The 2001-2002 season resulted in the harvest of 146 bobcats, of which 122 were harvested using traps and 24 were taken by hunters.

According Game Commission bobcat biologist Dr. Matthew Lovallo, nearly 14 percent of permit recipients made no attempt to harvest a bobcat during the 2001-2002 season, and five percent of the recipients indicated they were interested in obtaining a permit for their collection of hunting and trapping memorabilia. He noted that these figures are similar to the survey results following the 2000-2001 bobcat seasons.

Lovallo noted agency staff usually met with every successful bobcat hunter and trapper within four days of the reported harvest to examine the bobcat and to collect biological samples. If the permit holder indicated that the bobcat was going to be mounted, the agency contacted taxidermists to arrange for pelt sealing and carcass collection.

Upon examination, bobcat carcasses were sexed, weighed, measured (total length and chest girth), and a canine tooth was collected from the lower jaw. Teeth from adult bobcats have been shipped to Matson's Laboratories for age determination. This information will be provided to successful hunters and trappers during the fall of 2002.

In addition, stomachs were collected and frozen for diet analyses that will be conducted at Colgate University. Blood samples were collected from the majority of harvested animals for detection of toxoplasmosis; these analyses are being conducted at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A kidney and surrounding abdominal fat were collected to assess condition of harvested bobcats and reproductive tracts were collected from all females to assess pregnancy rates and to estimate litter size.

The Game Commission has continued, and in some areas, intensified efforts to monitor changes in Pennsylvania's bobcat population. During 2001, agency Wildlife Conservation Officers reported more than 100 bobcat roadkills, and trappers without harvest permits reported releasing an estimated 500 bobcats. Results of the 2001-2002 Game-Take Survey, which polls one percent of hunting/furtaking license buyers, show hunters reported seeing bobcats in all but four counties (Chester, Delaware Lawrence and Philadelphia).

"The results of the Game-Take Survey and ongoing field investigations suggest our bobcat population continues to expand geographically and numerically through the state," Lovallo said.

On July 1, the Game Commission began accepting applications for the 545 bobcat permits from holders of resident furtaker, junior combination or senior lifetime combination licenses, along with a nonrefundable $5 fee. Mail-in applications are included on Page 47 of the 2002-2003 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping regulations, which is provided to each license buyer. All mail-in applications must be postmarked no later than Aug. 16.

Also on July 1, the agency began accepting applications for the 545 bobcat permits through "The Outdoor Shop" on the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). Applicants may charge their hunting/furtaking licenses, as well as a bobcat application, to their VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit cards. Online applications will be accepted through midnight of Aug. 16.

Only one application per person will be accepted, and multiple submissions will result in the applicant being ineligible for the drawing. Those who received one of the 520 bobcat permits issued during the 2001-2002 season are not eligible for this year's drawing. However, those who received one of the 290 bobcat permits issued during the 2000-2001 season are eligible to apply for this year's drawing.

Each permit holder is entitled to take one bobcat during the seasons.

The hunting season for bobcats is set for Oct. 19 through Feb. 22, and the trapping season is set for Oct. 20 through Feb. 22. Those hunters or trappers receiving one of the limited permits through a public drawing will be restricted to pursuing bobcats in Furbearer Management Zones 2 and 3, which includes all or portions of 20 counties in northcentral and northeastern Pennsylvania. These are the same two furbearer management areas available when the season was established in 2000.