City Council Resolves To Protect Bobcats – The Furry Kind

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Athens City Council Monday night

Athens City Council approved a resolution Monday night opposing an Ohio Division of Wildlife proposal to allow bobcat trapping and killing in select counties, including Athens.

The bobcat was removed from the threatened and endangered list less than four years ago. During the last year alone, Southeast, Ohio reported 100 bobcats killed on area roads and in “incidental trapping,” where bobcats were caught in coyote traps.

While the plan would limit the number of bobcats taken, it would also allow an unlimited number of permits to be sold for $5 each. Opponents of the plan said they worry that hundreds of bobcats could be trapped in the first few days before the state could halt the hunt.

An Ohio bobcat sitting on a tree in the woods

At the Meeting:

Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, called the proposed rule “premature” saying there is not enough research to assess the bobcat population.

“I like the idea that there are wild animals in the woods,” he said. “They’re worth more to me alive than they are dead.”

Rachel Martin, a representative for a group called “Bobcats for Bobcats” at Ohio University, said she opposed the trapping proposal based on her belief that the increase in bobcat sightings may be due to an increase of trail cameras.

Bobcats and Tourism:

Trapping-opponent Heather Cantino told council members the bobcats could draw tourists to the area.

“It is really exciting for someone in Southeast, Ohio to see a bobcat, so it will actually have possible economic impacts on our tourism and recreation for people being in the woods,” she said.

A public hearing will be held in Columbus on May 2nd, where a final decision will be made by the Ohio Wildlife Council.

Mayor Steve Patterson at Athens City Council meeting Monday night