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When shooting for bobcat, do him or her a favor: try 35mm, digital camera

I was sitting around the newsroom last week when Lee Cable, staff reporter for the Clarion News, returned from a interview and was talking about a bobcat.
I sat at my desk thinking some government agency had acquired a new piece of construction equipment. Later in the day, Lee asked if I wanted to see the bobcat photos. I said, ‘Sure,’ but I said to myself, ‘Yeah. Right. Why would I care about seeing a piece of metal with some government officials standing in front of it, looking happy about their new equipment.’
But much to my surprise, the bobcat wasn’t really a bobcat at all. At least not exactly the kind I was thinking it was. The bobcat was, well, a bobcat. However, this bobcat would never be used on a construction project.
This bobcat was once a live, breathing animal that was killed on opening day of deer season in Crawford County, according to the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, so someone could show their buddies that bobcats did, indeed, exist in the area. I guess the man didn’t think to bring a camera.
The bobcat was being tracked by DNR Fish and Wildlife biologists by means of a tracking collar. The study began in 1998 to determine the abundance and distribution of bobcats in the state.
Due to habitat depletion, bobcats were classified as endangered in 1969, which provided them full protection. They were removed from that list just last year but still remain protected as non-game species. Bobcats have also been needlessly destroyed because of the misconception that they are horrible predators. They are, in fact, a beneficial predator, preying heavily on rats and mice.
Bobcat 264, as he was called by DNR, had been tracked since August 2005, traveling around Southern Indiana until last April when batteries in his collar expired. He probably lived his days hunting rabbits and mice. Perhaps, the night before he was killed, he dined on mice and then lounged sleepily in a tree.
I’m sure when he was wandering through the forest early that Saturday morning looking for a plump cottontail rabbit for breakfast, he didn’t expect someone to shoot him in his chest and didn’t expect to lie on the ground bleeding to death from a bullet wound.
Furthermore, I’m sure he didn’t expect someone to shoot him while he was defenseless and unaware of any danger as he wandered around his habitat.
The bobcat has no major predators other than man. Surprisingly, they were here in Indiana before we were. Which I think should take precedence. This is their land; we’re simply living on it.
That is something I wish people would come to understand when they are making comments about killing all the deer in Harrison County or choosing to shoot a bobcat while he’s going about his day as usual. It’s their land. They were here long before we were and probably will be here long after. Yet, the deer, bobcats, raccoons and whatever other animal in the county some people so despise, do not have any defenses against us.
They can’t stop us from building roads through their habitats or even building houses over their habitats. They have no defenses against our guns, our bows, poisons or traps.
So the next time a deer runs across a road because deer have been running through there long before there were roads, stop and realize this: Deer have been here for centuries, and killing them off or putting head lights on them is not the answer. Perhaps slowing down and paying more attention to the road would be a better answer.
When a raccoon gets into your trash can, realize that the home you are living in was probably built on top of what was once its home and the source of its food. When wooded areas are increasingly being urbanized, where else do you expect them to find food?
If you’re out hunting and see a bobcat you want to show your friends, please realize cameras were invented in 1862, and so you can shoot it that way, not with a gun. They have a right to life just as much as you do ‘ if not more ‘ because I’m sure that Bobcat 264 has never killed a human.

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