Commercial fur trapping goes back hundreds of years in North America, and while the idea of trapping wild animals for their fur in the U.S. seems outdated, the business is unfortunately thriving, thanks to foreign demand for the fur of one animal in particular…the bobcat. A recent in-depth article by The Center for Investigative Reporting sheds light on this sad story.
Up to 7 million animals are trapped and killed for their fur in the U.S. each year. Among the approximately 20 species that are taken, the bobcat is the most prized. One high quality bobcat pelt can sell for $1,400, and a full bobcat coat (made from as many as 70 pelts) can cost as much as $150,000.
Who’s buying coats made from these beautiful big cats? China, Russia, and Europe are the biggest importers, where fur coats are still seen as a symbol of wealth and luxury. 65,000 bobcat pelts were exported overseas in 2013. Bobcat fur, especially the spotted white stomach fur, is highly valued, mainly because the killing of other spotted wild cats is now largely illegal.
Bobcats and other fur animals are trapped using the inhumane tool of the fur trade…the steel-jaw trap. These traps clamp down on the leg or paw of an animal, where it remains trapped and in pain until the trapper arrives to check the trap and kill the animal. Unfortunately, a quick shot to the head would damage the pelt, so the bobcats are strangled with a wire noose on a pole. Other animals like pet dogs and cats, mountain lions, and even bald eagles are often caught in traps accidentally.
What’s being done to save the bobcat from the international fur trade? While the bobcat population in the U.S. is actually quite healthy, steps are being taken to ban trapping on federal lands like national wildlife refuges. California has outlawed all commercial bobcat trapping. Unfortunately, in many states that allow trapping, more work needs to be done to ensure that the traps are checked in a timely manner.
Interested in learning more about this issue? Check out the full report HERE.
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