Bobcat Hunting Season Expands in Michigan: Here Are the Details

by Amy Myers

Earlier this week, Michigan’s Natural Resource Commission has unanimously decided to expand bobcat hunting season in the state in response to the population’s growing numbers. The decision came at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the NRC, there will be a new bobcat hunting season in nine counties: Kent, Ionia, Montcalm, Muskegon, Gratiot, Saginaw, Ottawa, Clinton, and Shiawassee. In order to keep state bobcat numbers in check, will be an 11-day hunting season in the southern counties. Within the state’s Lower Pennisula, hunting and trapping season for bobcats will stretch across 20 days and two weekends. The bag limit for each hunter is one bobcat per season unless otherwise specified.

Here’s the breakdown of the new season:

  • Southern Lower Peninsula: Dec. 10 to Dec. 20 for trapping; Jan. 1 to Jan. 11 for hunting.
  • Northern Lower Peninsula: Dec. 10 to Dec. 29 for trapping; Jan. 1 to Jan. 20 for hunting. 
  • Upper Peninsula: Oct. 25 to Dec. 26 for trapping; Jan. 1 to March 1 for hunting. 

National Resources Commissioner David Nyberg stated that Michigan’s bobcat population numbers have increased due to recent conservation efforts. While at one point, this type of action was necessary, now the number of bobcats is secure enough to expand the hunting season.

“We’re also going to be able to further support the actual act of conservation through the funding of licensed dollars that supports that work,” Nyberg said, Detroit Free Press reports. 

Animal Activists Speak Out Against Expanded Bobcat Hunting Season

Despite the unanimous agreement from the Natural Resource Commission, animal rights activists that attended Thursday’s meeting expressed strong opposition to the expansion. Molly Tamulevich, the Michigan director for Humane Society of the United States, fears that the new season will cause unnecessary damage to juvenile bobcats, in particular.

“This proposed expansion will cause untold harm to bobcats and kittens hunting and trapping orphan dependent kittens, leaving them to starve or die of predation or closure,” said Tamulevich.

Likewise, another activist, Trish Marie, pointed out that bobcats are the natural predators for small animals like squirrels and chipmunks. While Tamulevich’s concern lies with the game species, Marie worries that with fewer bobcats, the rodent population will become out of control.

“I have a kajillion squirrels covering my property and the primary prey of bobcats is squirrels,” Marie said. “Bobcats play an important role in keeping the number of squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents down.”

Michigan Experts Respond to Animal Activists’ Concern

However, Adam Bump, a bear and furbearer specialist for the Department of Natural Resources assures that the new hunting season won’t threaten the bobcat population.

“When we’re opening those nine counties, we’re really just opening a larger area to harvest the same population,” said Bump.

Meanwhile, the Michigan United Conservation Club supports the expanded hunting season. Following the NRC’s decision, Justin Tomei, MUCC policy assistant, claimed this is an indication of a “conservation success story.”

“Bobcat ranges expanding are indicative of the conservation work stakeholders like MUCC and the department have prioritized and championed,” said Tomei.