The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on a number of proposed changes for the 2008-2009 hunting and trapping seasons. DNR Wildlife Research Supervisor Willie Suchy says the most notable change involves a plan to boost the number of bobcats that could be trapped in southern Iowa to 200. Last year was the first season for bobcat trapping in the state and the quota of 150 animals was reached in three weeks.
"We’ve been doing some research in southern Iowa and bobcat numbers have expanded tremendously in the last 10 years. Probably 20 years ago they were pretty rare…now, they’re pretty common," Suchy said. The booming bobcat population in southern Iowa can be traced to policy changes in neighboring states. "(Bobcat) populations in Kansas and Missouri have increased, probably due to changes in the conservation reserve program…adding habitat out there and a reduction in probably some of the grazing practices. So, bobcats just have better habitat," Suchy said.
The DNR proposal would add Harrison, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury Counties in western Iowa to the list of counties where it’s legal to trap bobcats. Another proposal would expand the trapping quota for river otters from 400 to 500. There are other minor changes related to deer hunting and waterfowl seasons and the wildlife depredation program. All of the proposals are described in detail on the wildlife section of the Iowa DNR website. "I’d encourage people to look on the website and see if there’s anything they’d like to comment on. We like to hear what we can do better," Suchy said.
Iowans can submit their comments by mail, email or phone. There is also a public meeting on the proposals scheduled for April 29th. It will be conducted over the Iowa Communications Network from 6 to 9 p.m. A list of ICN locations is available on the DNR website.