To The Daily Sun,
I would like to weigh in on the opinions expressed in a recent letter (March 31) regarding the New Hampshire Fish and Game's (NHFG) decision to reopen, by lottery, a hunting/trapping season on bobcats. The letter writer states he arrived at what he believes to be the "truth of the matter" by speaking to a representative of the NHFG. I would have suggested a different approach: since the NHFG's decision is based on the Cooperative Bobcat Research Project conducted by the University Of New Hampshire's Department Of Natural Resources, that may have been a better place to start.
The UNH study itself has concise documentation which ranges from Jan. 31, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2014, and breaks down into 14 reports. Every report explains the science behind the evolving research as well as the methods of accumulating the data, which was then subsequently plugged into the science. The data itself was gathered through a wide range of cross-referenced sources such as hunter sightings, civilian sightings, incidental trappings, nuisance relocation trappings, predation evidences, accidental shootings, collision statistics (aka road-kill), cameras (baited ingeniously with attractants) set up in known traffic corridors (game trails in preferable habitat) manned by trained volunteers; GPS collared cats, and finally by the DNA testing of bobcat victims of collision.
All very impressive, but unfortunately — and the study makes no efforts to hide this — the data was subject, in spite of ingenious methods to avoid it, to what I believe to have been an unacceptable margin of error. I could launch into an exhaustive defense of that statement but would rather save time and simply state the following:
The impressive science applied by UNH was only as good as the data applied to it. I believe the data, subject to so many variables, fell short. Additionally, the study itself draws no conclusions, as the letter writer states. The conclusions themselves were drawn by a small handful of the NHFG's board and has since been challenged by a majority vote (one dissenter) of the Joint Legislative Committee On Administrative Rules, which is empowered by law to review all rules and regulations proposed by state agencies.
What the study demonstrated to me, was that the bobcat has in fact modestly thrived, by striking an equilibrium — a balance — naturally, because of the NHFG's prior ban, and that the NHFG should allow that recovery to continue without interference. I have incredible respect for the NHFG's efforts at wildlife management. However, I just believe at this time they are moving too fast in the wrong direction at the wrong time in regard to New Hampshire's bobcat population.
- Category: Letters
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