To NH Fish and Game Commissioners:
The undersigned NH Conservation Commissions hold the position that opening a bobcat season, especially at this early juncture of bobcat population recovery, is against the best interest of conservation. Therefore we recommend that your Commission reconsider your decision of opening a bobcat season.
Resident adult bobcat population in NH was estimated to be about 1100 based on your department’s recent joint study with UNH. An ongoing genetic study led by UNH conservation biologists Dr. Marian Litvaitis and Rory Carroll has provided early results that our NH highways are acting as a fence for bobcat breeding. Inbreeding leads to reproductive failure and lack of adaptability.
Add on climate change and continued development, whether bobcats can sustain a real comeback in NH or not remains to be seen. Conservation biologists Rory Carroll said in an interview, “When we have healthy predator populations, this benefits the entire ecological community, including other animals and plants. It seems like the population is getting more robust, but the landscape now is very different than it was when bobcats were very widespread so we are interested to see if it’s even possible for bobcats to have a healthy, well-connected population.”
Indeed, there is increasing research showing that healthy predator populations play a vital role in our ecosystems in trophic cascade manner, benefiting animals and plants and even rivers and streams, which we humans also depend on to survive. A recent study by Stanford, Princeton and the University of CaliforniaBerkeley indicates that the first mass extinction ever since we humans have set foot on earth is already underway. It highlights the importance of conservation in our times. And preserving predators such as bobcats which benefits our entire ecosystems is a great tool in our conservation effort.
Research by ecologist Steve Knick and others show that predators such as bobcats do not need manipulative management to control their population, because they have the ability to selfregulate their population through fertility, etc. Moreover, bobcats do not usually conflict with humans. If conflict incidence arises in the future, it can be dealt with on an individual basis.
Bobcats are valuable to conservation in NH and generally beloved by NH residents. There is no good scientific reason to open a season on bobcats. Therefore we urge your Commission to reconsider your decision of opening a bobcat season.