Save the Bobcat in New Hampshire

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An open letter to the NH Fish and Game about opening a bobcat season:

Scott Semmens, MS

(Teacher, High School & College, for 25 years

NH Environmental Science Teacher of the Year, 2004

Tracker, outdoor enthusiast, ex-hunter)

Stoddard, NH 03464

January 21, 2015

Director Normandeau and Fish & Game Commission,

I am sorry I can not attend this meeting because I have semester exams that I have to attend to. I am happy to hear that NH Fish and Game and University of New Hampshire have completed a study which may show that bobcat population is on the rise. As a tracker and outdoor enthusiast, I would consider this potential increase encouraging and exciting. At the same time I am concerned that Fish and Game would see this as a revenue opportunity.  Well, it seems Fish and Game is now considering opening up a killing season for bobcats. I find this wrong on many levels.

Recreational trapping is a deplorable act, one that is archaic and brutal.  I understand the need for professional trapping, one for those occasional so-called nuisance animals. But trapping is no longer needed to fill the needs of food, clothing and shelter. Moreover, recreational trappers often trap non-targeted species, many of which are not reported.

Trapping or killing of predators is also very disruptive to the social and ecological structure in the areas in which it happens. I for one am very glad to see any increase of predators, because such increase in the long run (and not too long) means we are going to see an increase in the diversity of New Hampshire’s ecosystems. One just has to look at the increase of wolves in the Yellowstone area to see the dramatic increase of diversity of plants and birds in the area in just a short period of time. I am sure that the biologists at the Fish and Game have thoroughly read many of these studies and articles. You will find two of the many references below.

We have so few predators in this state and no large predators. It is a good thing that coyotes and bobcats are filling in the ranks. We should honor that.

I find the attempt of Fish and Game to increase revenue by trapping bobcats unimaginative and uninspired. Much more people come to this state to view wildlife then to kill them. I find the use of the word “harvest” of animals very revealing to the lack of vision by Fish and Game.

We delude ourselves that we have complete control over nature. We treat animals like commodities. What we really lack is the respect toward the animals. I have seen and continue to see the wanton destruction of ecosystems around the world in the name of profit. We can not continue on this path. And I think change should begin here and now, in how we teach our children and educate our adults to garner respect, and in the process experience the beauty and wonder that is our natural world. I feel that Fish and Game (and maybe the name need to be changed) is missing an opportunity to generate revenue  through education, nature guides, and perhaps wildlife fees or stamps. Naturally I have not exhausted the many possible ways for Fish and Game to seek revenue other than to open up a bobcat killing season.

I would be happy to contribute my skills as a tracker and GIS instructor with Fish and Game as I have done in my high school and college courses. I suspect Fish and Game will find many people who would be willing to do the same, especially there will be many teachers across the state retiring in a few years. I am sure more than a few will be interested in contributing their time, if – Fish and Game is truly committed to this endeavor. This is the kind of discussion we should be having and not retreat to the same old same old to try to solve the same problems we failed to solve using the same solutions before.

R. Scott Semmens

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