Contact(s): Shawn Rossler, DNR furbearer ecologist, 608-267-9428; Nathan Roberts, DNR research scientist, 715-490-9345
MADISON -- Preliminary harvest data for Wisconsin's 2016-17 bobcat season show hunters and trappers harvested 338 bobcats.
Preliminary data combines both state and tribal harvest information - final harvest information should be available by mid-June. The 2016-17 season marked the third year of a statewide bobcat harvest. These preliminary figures include results from the newly opened southern bobcat harvest zone.
Bobcat harvest is distributed by allocating harvest permits to those using northern and southern management zones. According to preliminary data, 169 bobcats were harvested in the northern zone and 139 were harvested in the southern zone in 2016. Tribal harvest accounted for 30 bobcats.
"Bobcats are managed through a preference point lottery system that allows harvest by trappers and/or hunters with a permit" said Shawn Rossler, furbearer ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Harvest goals and permit levels for each management zone are evaluated annually."
The department's bobcat population estimate research is led by Nathan Roberts, the department's furbearer research scientist.
"We are learning a lot about this elusive animal through active research efforts - in fall 2016, we worked with trappers to place GPS satellite collars on 16 bobcats in the Northern Zone and seven bobcats in the Southern Zone," said Roberts. "We are gathering information that helps DNR staff better understand how many bobcats are on the landscape and what level of take is sustainable."
Over the last three years, 60 bobcats have been collared and monitored. This information will be used to update population models and improve the annual setting of harvest goals.
Annual harvest goals are developed in consultation with tribal and partner agency representatives, and individuals from key user groups. Wisconsin's bobcat hunting and trapping seasons are divided into early (mid-October to Dec. 25) and late (Dec. 26 to Jan. 31) time periods. These early and late seasons for each zone can be closed early to ensure that harvest is within approved goals.
Harvested bobcats must be reported within 24 hours and receive an in-person registration tag from a local conservation warden within five days of the month of harvest. Successful harvesters must provide the bobcat carcass to the department for scientific examination. Department staff use data collected from this examination to monitor population age structure, pregnancy rates and litter sizes. This information is tracked annually to allow immediate adjustments to harvest based on overall size and health of the bobcat population.