Hunters advocate for bobcat hunting season

Herald file photo by Travis Main
A trail camera captured a bobcat west of St. Anthony in 2013.

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Prior to this legislative session, State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, was told there needs to be a bobcat hunting season in Indiana.

“There’s a bunch of them, and they’re just eating everything,” said Jeff Miley, a local hunter and owner of Jeff’s Bait & Guns in Jasper. “It’s getting out of control.”

However, after Lindauer drafted a bill to enact a season, he began hearing from hunters that creating a law in Indiana Code is not the way to establish one.

So the bill Lindauer submitted for that purpose will not be pursued, he said.

“It was to open a limited bobcat season in southern Indiana, where bobcats seem to be more of a problem,” Lindauer said. “But as I went forward with the legislation, I heard more comments from hunters that while they were in favor of a season being opened, they were not a fan of doing it through the Legislature. They would rather wait and have it go through the normal channel.”

That channel is the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ commission that reviews and, if needed, updates hunting rules every two years.

“This is what we pay the DNR biologists to do, to take care of this kind of stuff,” Miley said. “You want the managers to manage the game. Do your job.”

Miley said he has seen the influx of bobcats in Dubois County.

“I’ve seen five in one sitting in a tree stand, five different bobcats, within three hours,” he said. “For 20 years, I’ve hunted on a property, and there’s always been at least 20 turkeys on its ridge. It’s down to two turkeys; that’s all I saw this year. It’s just gotten crazy.”

Last year, DNR was ready to enact a bobcat season as part of its new rules, and held public hearings on the rules. At the hearing in Mitchell, located in southern Indiana, the majority of the people favored having the new season. But at the hearing in Anderson, which is north of Indianapolis, the majority was against the idea, Lindauer said. So the DNR pulled the rules to establish the season.

While it may be different in other areas of the state, bobcats are a problem in southern Indiana, and they need to be controlled, Miley said.

“We’ve not hunted them, and there’s no predators out there for them. So once mama can get him raised up, he’s another predator. He’s another mouth to feed,” he said. “Nothing else going to eat a bobcat once they get past 12, 15 pounds. So they breed just like regular old house cats. They’ll breed twice a year, have another two or three kittens. And that’s the problem. We’ve got way too many.”

The bobcats are eating the small game, like turkeys, squirrels and rabbits. “You name it,” Miley said, “they’re eating them.”

But the season should be established by DNR, not by the Legislature, he said.

“Let the biologists make the decisions that they should be making,” he said. “If you gotta go through the politicians to make a game management decision, then we don’t need the biologists. [Biologists are] the ones that went to school for this. They understand how biology and nature is supposed to work.”

Based on its normal, two-year schedule, the next time DNR’s commission will consider making rule changes is in 2020, Lindauer said.

Miley hopes the season is established as soon as possible, before the bobcats eliminate the other game from the area.

“We’ve got a problem with the chicken hawks and owls, too,” he said. “But the bobcats are the ones that are really knocking a lot of stuff down. They’re gonna eat. If I know where the turkeys are at, the bobcats know exactly where the turkeys are at.

“We gotta keep them under control.”




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