2013-10-05 / Outdoors

PGC working on bobcat, otter plans

There are reasons this part of the state is marketed to tourists as the Pennsylvania Wilds.

Certain species that were overhunted, overtrapped or driven away by habitat changes have been making a comeback – elk, coyote, bobcats and otters among them.

The latter two species are the focus of long-term management plans by the Game Commission and public comment is being solicited through the agency’s website, pgc.state.pa.us (click on Accepting Public Comment).

Each management plan charts a 10-year course for managing the species.

Bobcats were considered “vermin” in the early 1900s and a bounty system was put in place to reduce their numbers. Even after the bounties were lifted in 1938, bobcats were unprotected in Pennsylvania until 1970, when the Game Commission classifified the bobcat as a furbearer.

Today, the bobcat is valued as an important predator in Pennsylvania’s fifields and forests and its population is thriving. Since 2000, hunters and trappers have been able to take bobcats under a controlled system.

The Game Commission’s plan will be based on a desire to conserve bobcats for future generations and ensure sustainable bobcat harvest opportunities.

River otters have faced challenges for many decades. While it’s believed otters could be found in nearly every major watershed in the state in the late 1800s, the species was nearly gone by the early to mid-1900s.

The Game Commission launched efforts to restore otters in 1982, and their numbers have increased continually. Part of the new plan will be an assessment of whether an ottertrapping season can established without threatening the animal’s population.

Return to top