Bobcat sightings in Iowa raised a lot of concern in the past year as the small cats were sometimes mistaken for mountain lions. The first bobcat season was held in Iowa in 2007. DNR furbearer biologist, Vince Evelsizer, says the return of the bobcats to Iowa is a good wildlife story. “The bobcat population is stable to increasing in some areas, and so overall it has been generally a very successful wildlife story for Iowa that all Iowans can be excited about,” Evelsizer says.
The bobcat population is mainly in the southern part of the state. The first season began with a quota for hunters that ended the season once 150 animals had been taken. That quota gradually increased to 450 last season. But Evelsizer says they felt the population was strong enough to not limit the amount of animals taken.
“This year the quota was lifted, but the bag possession limit was still one per fur harvester. What it did is it gave both trappers and predator hunters a chance to harvest their animal later into the season,” Evelsizer says.
It appears the bobcat season has gone well with the change. “So far feedback has been positive in that they appreciate that opportunity,” Evelsizer says. “Success has been variable around the southern part of the state — with some folks doing well and other not as well as they hoped to. I think some of that is the cold weather that set in earlier this year.”
The bobcat population came back without special help form the state. Otters on the other hand got some help being reintroduced into Iowa waters. Evelsizer says the otter limit was reduced from three to two this year to prevent too many from being taken. “That population is doing fairly well statewide. They’re doing the best in the eastern half of the state — especially in the Cedar and Iowa River watersheds,” according to Evelsizer.
To find out more about the bobcat and otter seasons, go to the Iowa DNR’s website at: www.iowadnr.com.