The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that a three-year experimental research trapping season for fisher and bobcat began Wednesday through special permits issued to trappers.
Under the program, trappers who obtain a special permit for the season will be able to trap bobcats in Wildlife Management Units 4F, 4N and 4O, which include parts of Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome and Chenango counties.
The bobcat season has been closed for more than 20 years in the three WMUs that DEC is proposing to open for trapping this year. During that time, particularly within the past 10 years, DEC has received numerous reports of bobcat observations, road fatalities and incidental captures from the public.
These reports have led DEC staff biologists to conclude that bobcats are dispersed throughout the area proposed for experimental trapping. During these research seasons, bobcat hunting will not be allowed in the three experimental WMUs.
This year, the bobcat trapping season will run from Nov. 1 to Feb. 15. The following two years, the season will begin Oct. 25 and run until Feb. 15.
Trappers who wish to participate in the experimental bobcat trapping seasons must obtain a free special permit from DEC, agree to keep a daily trapping log of their activities and, if successful, provide the entire skinned carcass to DEC. Trappers may keep the animal pelt.
There will be an extended trapping season for fisher in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6A, 6C, and 6H, which include northern parts of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties.
The permits are free, but trappers obtaining a permit will be required to maintain and submit a daily trapping diary log book and submit the lower jaw of each fisher taken in these WMUs. A log book and jaw submission tags will be mailed to trappers with their permit.
Trappers may obtain permits by phone or mail from their regional DEC Wildlife office. They will need to provide their name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address (if applicable) and trapping license ID number. Permits will need to be signed by the holder to be valid and must be carried on with them while trapping.
This experimental season is a part of a research project to collect biological harvest data and measure trapper effort to evaluate fur-bearer management in the state. DEC biologists said they believed that a limited harvest season will provide vital clues to better estimate the population of bobcats in the area and enable Department biologists to better manage fisher in the future. The seasons are set to run for no more than three years.
The regular fisher trapping season runs from Oct. 25 until Dec. 10 in the other parts of the state, which have a fisher season, including the Adirondacks, Catskills and Tug Hill Plateau.
Trappers who want to participate in the experimental season should contact their regional DEC wildlife office in these areas for additional information and to request a permit application.
For more information, call (518) 402-8000 or 652-7367.