Monday, November 12, 2012

Iowa Bobcat Hunting Season 2012

Today, I would like to get some information posted about the Bobcat 2012 trapping season for Iowa.

Our season opened on November 3rd, and will go to January 31, 2013 or until a quota of 450 cats total are taken between hunting and trapping . If you are interested in seeing some specifics please click here to be taken to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulations for more information. The current count can be found here.

The season is open in the following counties: Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Cass, Clarke, Davis,
Decatur, Des Moines, Fremont, Guthrie, Harrison, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Lucas,
Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Mills, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Woodbury

These counties are located on the southern 3 tiers of our 99 counties, and  north of Interstate 80 on the Missouri River corridor...with Guthrie county in the 4th tier up from our southern border also being included.

Even though we have a Bobcat population starting  to take root in our neighborhood we are not included in the yearly Bobcat hunts at this point, and it would be illegal for anyone to take an animal outside the shaded area you would see indicated on the Map on the IDNR site .(Page 21)

Below you will find the rules described in the regulations for becoming a trapper or hunter of  Bobcat, Otter the State of Iowa.
Fur harvesters - All residents and nonresidents regardless of age must have a Fur harvester License to 
trap or hunt fur bearing animals.  Residents 16 to 64 years old and all nonresidents regardless of age must 
also have paid the Habitat Fee.  A Hunting License is not needed to hunt furbearers.  Coyote and groundhog 
may be hunted with either a Fur harvester License or a Hunting License. Nonresident fur harvesters wanting 
to purchase an Iowa nonresident Fur harvester License may do so only if their state of residence also sells a 
nonresident Fur harvester/Trapping License to Iowa residents.(Page 9)

My Personal  Thoughts

Photo Courtesy of  Mr. Titus
I really appreciate the sharing of  a photo by Mr. Titus, of a family - mom, and kittens, wandering a central Iowa timber. I think it would be a great time filler if there was a chance to sit quietly and observe the family interacting.

Last year, I caught what I would believe to be the hindquarters of a Bobcat on my trail camera, for some reason the camera didn't get the whole cat while it stood right beside it. The event didn't repeat itself ...So, the  photo wasn't able to verify the possibility that Timber Life had been host to the spotted cat. Can you say frustrated? I can! 

Judge for yourself. What would you say the hindquarter in the picture to the left should be associated? The legs appear to be those of a well muscled feline...However, the variation in the tail from what you normally picture gave some individuals doubt to it's owners species.

Having a growing Bobcat population may not be beneficial to the Pheasant count which has struggled greatly in the last 4-5 years, and the Turkey flock numbers, which once seemed more visibly healthy in our timber - changed it's dynamic, and the rabbits have basically gone nocturnal in their appearances on the trail camera,their numbers have decreased significantly; to have another predator in addition to the coyote gaining territory on top of stresses from weather conditions has me questioning the balance.

Iowa State University at Ames has done studies on the Bobcat dietary habits and writes in their findings that only 2% of stomach contents include pheasant, hawk, crow , turkey and flicker. However, I certainly would think  they would hunt whatever is closest when they get hungry. It is my wish that they could give us a paw up in bringing the crow, and thirteen lined ground squirrel populations under control in our area.

While I have mixed feelings about the growth of sightings of Felis concolor (Mountain Lion) passing through(?) and increases of resident Bobcats(Lynx or Felis rufus)...What will it mean for the local ecosystems in the future? That can only be answered as time passes.

Certainly, I would affirm they are stealthy in their movements since I believe my first encounter came back on November 14, 2007...the last time I went out after a Pheasant, it had the same intention as me - make a meal out of the experience.  I shot at the rooster and went to check a known travel corridor out of this particular situation. When I reached the spot, crouching on the ground with prey in mouth was a  little Bobcat, it turned it's head to look at me and took off. My actions placed the bird right in the cats strong jaws. I went to look for the wildcat to make sure of what I had just witnessed, but the split second to mull over in my mind what I just seen was a second too long. Since that time I have heard of  trail camera sightings, but no encounters of my own until last fall.

 Bobcat numbers seem to be growing everywhere, any place they can find food and shelter, even within some large city limits; Los Angeles, CA., Chicago,IL,Boynton Beach, FL.are all places seeing populations thriving.

Every time I go looking for additional information about Bobcat characteristics I find a discrepancy in what is considered their normal weights. I will chalk it up to what part of the country they are in and how good their surrounding provide for them. What I have seen mentioned in Iowa, 15 - 26 lbs.,  compared to Los Angeles Animal Services placing the weights between 20 - 40 lbs., of their suburban wildcats. 

In closing, I would like to say by no means am I trying to be an authority on the feline species that are establishing populations nationwide, or finding their way across our State. I am just bringing to light some tidbits of information that I have found interesting and hope you will too, while I search to understand a population that was reintroduced by the Department of Natural Resources to our neighborhood.