- Associated Press - Sunday, January 31, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will hold public hearings on proposed rules to have a bobcat hunting and trapping season for the first time in more than two decades.

The Fish and Game Commission is proposing to issue 50 bobcat permits through a lottery. The timing of the draft season would be December for trapping January for hunting. If adopted, the proposal would take effect this December.

All of New Hampshire’s neighboring states and provinces - Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Quebec - have bobcat seasons, although none have the limits Fish and Game is proposing.

Hearings will be held Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. in Representatives Hall in the New Hampshire Statehouse. A second hearing will take place Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Fish and Game Department’s regional office at 629B Main Street in Lancaster.

Fish and Game officials say the bobcat population could sustain modest harvest and still accommodate slow growth.

When the population dropped below an estimated 200 in 1989, the state banned hunting or trapping the cats. Biologists now say the population may be as high as 1,400 in the fall and winter and 2,200 in the spring and summer.

Opponents doubt the population is that high and argue there is no reason to kill bobcats.

Written comments on the proposal must be received by the department by Feb. 10.

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