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October 16, 2009

The HSUS and HSI Oppose Proposal to Eliminate International Protection for Bobcats

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International expressed disappointment with a proposal by the U.S. Department of the Interior to eliminate international protection for the bobcat, also known as the American lynx, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The proposal — which will be considered at the upcoming meeting of CITES Parties in March 2010, in Doha, Qatar — is likely to lead to the increased killing of bobcats for their fur pelts, and the increased killing of similar looking species such as the critically endangered lynx.

"Bobcats are the most highly traded wild cat species in the world," said Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D., director of wildlife at Humane Society International. "International protection is vital to insure that trade does not harm bobcat or other related lynx populations, and we urge CITES Parties to reject this ill-conceived proposal."

The bobcat is a small, spotted wild cat native to Canada, the United States and Mexico. They are trapped in the wild with cruel leg-hold traps for their fur, which is made into garments. More than 53,000 skins are traded internationally every year and the level has increased five-fold since 1995. The United States is the largest exporter while Italy and Greece are the largest importers.

The bobcat is listed on CITES Appendix II, which means that skins can be exported only if the exporting country makes a scientifically-based finding that the export will not cause a detriment to the survival of the species. The bobcat also is listed on Appendix II because their fur looks like the fur of other small, spotted cats that are listed on CITES Appendix I, which bans international trade, including the critically endangered Iberian lynx, and other endangered and threatened lynx species including the Eurasian lynx, Canada lynx and Mexican bobcat.

The most recent population estimate for the United States is more than 25 years old and there are no population estimates for Canada or Mexico. The wild bobcat population is considered to be decreasing. The HSUS and HSI are also concerned because there is illegal trade in endangered and threatened lynx species on CITES Appendix I, and bobcat skins cannot be distinguished from those of other lynx species, even by forensic analysis.

This is the fourth time the United States has proposed to remove CITES protection for bobcats. In 2007, the proposal was opposed by European countries and Mexico, and was soundly defeated in a vote of 63 opposed, 28 in favor and nine abstentions.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org. 

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