[Reprinted from original]
In the midst of the annual bobcat hunting season, fur trappers and hunters in Jones and Delaware counties have their chance to harvest a bobcat for the first time this year.
The future of bobcat hunting in Dubuque County remains uncertain.
“We’re actually kind of at the tail end of (the season) now,” DNR wildlife biologist Curt Kemmerer said. “For those few people who do it, I assume it’s been going probably fairly well.”
The bobcat season began Nov. 6 and will run until Monday, Jan. 31.
DNR furbearer and wetland biologist Vince Evelsizer said Monday that it was still too soon to tell how the season would shape up statewide, but that it might be similar to last year.
Since 2007, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has slowly been expanding the areas where bobcat hunting is legal as bobcat populations rise. Jones and Delaware counties were added to the list this year, while Jackson County was added during the 2018-2019 season.
In all three counties, hunters can legally harvest one bobcat each season. During the 2020-2021 season, 18 bobcats were harvested in Jackson County.
Initially in 2021, DNR had considered adding Dubuque County to the list, but the department received feedback opposing the move and plans were paused.
According to an email from DNR communication, outreach and marketing chief Tammie Krausman, the department is still collecting data and gathering input for the future.
“We did decide to step back,” Evelsizer said. “A lot of folks we felt misunderstood where we were coming from with bobcat management.”
Evelsizer said that some of the feedback indicated that Dubuque County residents were concerned that the DNR wanted to eliminate bobcats, which he stressed was not the case.
“We are responsible for properly managing populations and not allowing over-harvesting,” Evelsizer said.
Evelsizer said that bobcats are a conservation success story. Though the species was once in danger of being extirpated in Iowa due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting, bobcat populations have rebounded since the 1990s in the southern part of the state.
“I’d rather try to take some time and talk to folks that are interested in such a topic,” Evelsizer said.
Throughout the month of February, the DNR will host town hall meetings across the state to recap hunting and trapping seasons and discuss possible changes to rules and regulations.
A Dubuque meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the E.B. Lyons Nature Center at Mines of Spain.
Evelsizer said that the meetings are listening sessions driven by what attendees want to discuss and learn more about.
“It is definitely a forum to ask or tell us their thoughts on a trapping or hunting issue,” Evelsizer said. “There’s often a lot of deer talk.”