Prairie Dogs & Bobcats
Utah's DWR is making a couple of proposals for changes.

• Prairie Dogs

Shooters would not be allowed to shoot white-tailed prairie dogs from April 1 to June 15, 2004. White-tailed prairie dogs are found throughout much of eastern Utah. The closure would protect them when they're raising their young and is in response to a petition filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place white-tailed prairie dogs on the federal Endangered Species list.

• Bobcats

A recommendation to lower the number of bobcats harvested in the state. During the 2002 - 2003 season, 2,176 bobcats were taken, mostly by trappers. Last season's bobcat harvest was 746 more than the1,430 taken during the 1999 - 2000 season, just three seasons before.

To reduce the take, the DWR will propose that the number of tags each trapper may purchase be reduced from 8 to 6 and that the season be shortened by two weeks. The two weeks would be taken off of the end of the season. Last season, almost 400 bobcats were taken during the last two weeks. "These changes should result in a harvest of about 1,700 to 1,800 bobcats, which is the average taken in recent seasons," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin says the DWR has two concerns about the number of bobcats that are being trapped. "The price for bobcat pelts has increased from about $50 two years ago to more than $250 last year," he said. "There's a greater demand for pelts now than there's been since the mid-1980s."

At the same time, the number of bobcats in Utah appears to be declining because of the drought, which has reduced the number of cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares that bobcats prey on.

"Very few juvenile bobcats were taken by trappers last year, which tells us that reproduction is down," he said. "We believe the measures we're recommending will ensure that Utah's bobcat populations remain healthy."

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