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Hunting- According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission today, hunters and trappers harvested 196 bobcats (124 females, 70 males and two unidentified in report) during the 2004-05 bobcat seasons. During the 2003-04 seasons, 140 bobcats were taken; 135 in 2002-03; 146 in 2001-02; and 58 in 2000-01.

At a public drawing last September, the Game Commission awarded 615 permits from a field of more than 4,200 applicants who applied to receive a bobcat harvest permit. Each permit allowed a hunter or trapper to harvest one bobcat. In 2003-04, the agency awarded 570 permits; 545 in 2002-03; 520 in 2001-02; and 290 in 2000-01.

The area in which bobcats could be legally harvested changed slightly with the adoption of Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in 2003. During this past season, bobcat harvests were allowed in eight WMUs: 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D in southwest, northcentral and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Harvest numbers for 2004-05 by county were: Bedford, 1; Bradford, 22; Cameron, 7; Centre, 3; Clarion, 1; Clearfield, 12; Clinton, 8; Columbia, 2; Elk, 12; Fayette, 2; Forest, 3; Indiana, 1; Jefferson, 3; Lackawanna, 1; Lehigh, 1; Luzerne, 4; Lycoming, 23; McKean, 6; Monroe, 2; Pike, 5; Potter, 25; Somerset, 2; Sullivan, 20; Susquehanna, 3; Tioga, 19; Wayne, 3; Westmoreland, 1; and Wyoming, 4. (WMU was not identified for two bobcats.)

Game Commission staff collected biological data and samples from a number of harvested bobcats, including: basic body measurements; tissue samples; stomachs; intestines; and reproductive tracts from females. A tooth also was collected from these bobcats and will be used to estimate the age composition and distribution of the harvest.

Also, a survey was mailed to permit recipients who did not report a bobcat harvest during the hunting and trapping seasons to measure participation and harvest effort.

"This past season's harvest demonstrates that Pennsylvania has a thriving population of bobcats, and that our previous year's limited harvests have not impacted the population," said Dr. Matthew Lovallo, Game Commission furbearer biologist and author of the agency's bobcat management plan. "Weather conditions were favorable during January and February, particularly for trapping because of limited precipitation. In fact, 42 percent of the harvest occurred after January 1. Trapping was the most commonly used technique, accounting for 87 percent of the bobcat harvest, three percent were taken by hunters using trained hounds, six percent were taken by hunters using predator calls and four percent were taken using other lawful methods."

Lovallo also noted that all of the population indicators the agency uses to monitor bobcat populations indicate that Pennsylvania's bobcat population continues to increase. One such example is that Wildlife Conservation Officers reported 111 bobcat roadkills in 27 counties in 2004. These reports were added to a database of more than 1,000 roadkills documented since these efforts began in 1985.

Based on the agency's annual furtakers survey, the Game Commission estimates that furtakers who did not possess a bobcat permit captured and released more than 690 bobcats while pursuing other species during the 2003-2004 seasons. Most recently, the Game Commission incorporated questions regarding bobcat sightings on its annual Game-Take Survey, which is sent to 20,000 general license buyers. A total of 10,005 hunters responded to this survey and reported seeing 763 bobcats throughout the state.

"Based on these results, we added two additional WMUs - WMU 2E and 2C - to the areas where bobcat permit holders were allowed to harvest a bobcat in 2004-2005 seasons," Lovallo said. "The northern portion of WMU 2E, specifically Clearfield County, was open for harvest prior to the adoption of the WMU system. So, the addition of WMU 2E re-established opportunities for this area.

"Adding WMU 2C to the harvest area provided greater access and opportunities for hunters and trappers who reside in southern counties. An analysis of hunter/trapper surveys during previous seasons shows that permit holders who reside in or near the WMUs open to bobcat hunting and trapping are more successful."

Lovallo noted that the agency's objective for expanding the number of WMUs open for bobcat hunting or trapping by permit holders is to more uniformly distribute hunter/trapper pressure within areas that can sustain bobcat harvest and to improve the success rates among permit holders.

"The addition of these WMUs resulted in 15 bobcats being taken, and did not result in a dramatic increase in the number of permits allocated by the Game Commission during the 2004-05 seasons," Lovallo said.

On July 1, the Game Commission will begin accepting applications for 2005-06 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 in the 2005-06 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which will be provided to each license buyer. All mail-in applications must be postmarked no later than Aug. 15.

Also on July 1, to better serve its customers, the agency will begin accepting applications for bobcat permits through "The Outdoor Shop" on the agency's website ( 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 until midnight of Sept. 6.


HARRISBURG -Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross today announced the agency will award 615 permits for the 2005-06 bobcat hunting/furtaking seasons at a public drawing in its Harrisburg headquarters on Friday, Sept. 9.

"Based on the harvest success rate of the 2004-05 season and our survey of unsuccessful bobcat permit holders, we plan to maintain the number of permits allocated," Ross said.

Last year, the Game Commission also awarded 615 permits from an applicant pool of more than 4,200. In 2003-04, the agency allocated 570 permits from an applicant pool of nearly 3,500; in 2002-03, 545 permits were awarded from an applicant pool of more than 3,100; in 2001-02, 520 permits were awarded from an applicant pool of more than 3,100; and in 2000-01, the first bobcat season in 30 years, 290 permits were awarded from an applicant pool of 3,276.

Last year, 196 bobcats were taken by hunters and trappers. During the 2003-04 season, 140 bobcats were harvested; in 2002-03, 135 were harvested; in 2001-02, 146 were harvested; and in 2000-01, 58 were harvested.

Following the creation of a preference point system in 2003, individuals who applied for a bobcat permit in 2003 and were not selected will have their names entered into the drawing three times if they applied last year and this year as well. However, only one application per person per year will be accepted by the Game Commission, and multiple submissions will result in the applicant being ineligible for the drawing.

Those who received one of the 615 bobcat permits issued during the 2004-2005 season are not eligible for this year's drawing.

The hunting season for bobcats is set for Oct. 15 through Feb. 18, and the trapping season is set for Oct. 16 through Feb. 18. Those hunters or trappers receiving one of the limited permits through a public drawing will be restricted to pursuing bobcats in WMUs 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D in southwest, northcentral and northeastern Pennsylvania.

To demonstrate its confidence in the Game Commission's bobcat management plan, in 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted the agency "multi-year" export status for bobcat pelts legally harvested in Pennsylvania.

Source: PA Game Commision - Hunting


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