Controversial Indiana bobcat hunting season, nuisance animal proposals turned away

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Natural Resources Commission on Tuesday turned away proposals that called for a bobcat hunting season and a requirement that captured raccoons, coyotes and opossums be killed, drawing cheers from people who fought the proposals.

DNR Director Cameron Clark moved to withdraw the proposals during a commission meeting, and the panel adopted those motions unanimously, eliciting applause from nearly 100 people attending the meeting.

“We have heard from you. We appreciate the interest. We do feel as though we probably need to work more with our constituencies on sensitive rules like this,” Clark said.

A nuisance animal proposal would have required animal control workers to kill captured raccoons, opossums or coyotes.

More than 200 people attended public meetings about the proposals and more than 2,000 comments were submitted online, mostly opposing them. Many comments said the department did not provide enough evidence to justify a bobcat hunting season.

DNR chief administrative law judge Sandra Jensen said in a report last week that the proposals did not fully address the public’s concerns.

“With respect to these administrative rule proposals, the hearing officer recommends additional enlightened discussion and thorough consideration by the commission,” she wrote.

Clark committed to the commission and members of the public attending the meeting that the DNR will engage the public earlier in the rulemaking process if it chooses to propose a bobcat hunting season in the future.

Opponents of the proposals said they were encouraged by the developments Tuesday.

“Clearly the thousands of comments that came in made quite a difference in this case,” Erin Huang, Indiana state director of the U.S. Humane Society, told The Indianapolis Star. “They know that we’re all paying attention and that we’re listening and that we care about these wildlife issues and there are thousands of non-consumptive users that want to see our wildlife protected.”

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