The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released its proposed five-year bobcat management plan and is looking for feedback from the public.
"The plan, once final, will guide the management of bobcats in New York State for the next five years, a wildlife species which continues to fascinate and intrigue both the hunting community and nature observers," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a recent press release.
The plan states that "observations by hunters and trappers, and reports from the general public suggest that bobcat populations are increasing and expanding throughout New York State outside of their historic core range in the Taconic, Catskill and Adirondack mountains and into central and western New York."
Some of those bobcats are coming into New York from Pennsylvania, according to the plan, which says the animal's population is increasing throughout the U.S.
The bobcat range is from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Bobcats are found throughout most of New York, except for Long Island.
The animal can weigh more than 30 pounds and is generally twice as large as a common house cat.
There is one major change to bobcat management in the Adirondacks. The trapping season is now from Oct. 25 to Dec. 25. The plan proposes to extend that season until Feb. 15. The change would make the trapping season the same as the current hunting season.
The Adirondacks has "had a history of much shorter bobcat trapping seasons nested within a more liberal hunting season," the plan states. "These shorter trapping seasons provided protection to a growing fisher population. Fisher populations have expanded throughout the northern zone and have been harvested in a sustainable manner for several decades."
The DEC doesn't anticipate the trapping season change would impact the harvest much.
"Due to the limited trapping effort evidenced in the recent Trapper Mail Survey, we do not anticipate a significant increase in overall bobcat harvests from the addition of two months of trapping effort," the plan states.
There are no bag limits on bobcats for hunters or trappers.
This change would push the trapping season into the bobcat breeding season. According to the DEC's website, bobcats begin to breed in mid January and early February.
Bobcats are targeted by some trappers because they are considered a trophy species. Some people keep the pelts while others will sell them. The prices for pelts has ranged from $50 to $200 in recent years, according to the DEC.
In addition to addressing the hunting and trapping seasons, the DEC's plan also explores way to better estimate and maintain the bobcat population and to track conflicts between humans and bobcats.
In general, the small cats are considered an elusive animal.
"Bobcats are not usually found near areas of high human development and negative interactions with humans are uncommon," the plan states.
The draft management plan is available on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov).
Comments on the plan may be submitted in writing through Feb. 16 to NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Bobcat Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (type "Bobcat Plan" in the subject line).