Bobcat: non-detriment findings

Published 2006-10-01 - Revised 2014-02-17

Re: Lynx rufus (Bobcat) Non-Detriment Finding for Canada

Summary of finding:

Export of legally obtained wild-harvested bobcat is considered non-detrimental.

Supporting information:

Biological characteristics

The bobcat is a long lived species with a low reproductive rate. Bobcats are adapted to a wide variety of habitats. The species is an opportunistic feeder and, despite a certain specialization in lagomorphs, its diet may include a diversity of prey. The bobcat has very good dispersal efficiency and is generally tolerant to human activities.


Southern Canada represents the northern limit of the bobcat's range, which extends south almost throughout the contiguous United States to southern Mexico. The species does not occur in the northern-most jurisdictions (three northern territories and Newfoundland/Labrador) and is generally limited to the southern portions of its range provinces.

Bobcat is not considered a species at risk in Canada. Its Canadian general status 2010 is secure. At the provincial level, bobcat is reported as secure or sensitive in all Canadian range provinces. NatureServe Canada gives Bobcat a national status of N5 (demonstrably widespread abundant and secure).

Population trends are inferred through the annual monitoring of harvest statistics. In particular, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (major bobcat harvesting provinces) infer population trends and make harvest management decisions based on biological indicators gathered from the mandatory annual (New Brunswick) or periodic (New Scotia) submission of all harvested specimens. In addition, some jurisdictions including New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also rely on harvest-independent monitoring surveys. Jurisdictions report a stable or increasing population trends. The period cyclic population fluctuations of the species are the suspected cause of the possibly increasing population trend. Monitoring of prey species in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia indicates an increasing trend in prey populations.

There is no widespread acute threat to the Canadian bobcat population. If not regulated, bobcat harvest and land use changes have the greatest potential to negatively impact Canadian bobcat populations. These are however regulated.

Harvest management

In Canada, management of most terrestrial wildlife falls under the jurisdictions of the Canadian provinces and territories. In the case of furbearing species, national coordination and communication occurs via the Canadian Furbearer Management Committee, which includes furbearer manager representatives from all jurisdictions. In addition the Fur Institute of Canada, to which all provinces/territories are a member, acts as a national umbrella organization for the fur industry across Canada.

Bobcat, like all vertebrates in Canada, is legally protected through various provincial wildlife acts. Under these acts, certain uses of Canadian wildlife are allowed under specific regulations and only with the provision of licenses or permits. Generally, without such a license, the catch, possession, trade, disturbance or destruction of wildlife is prohibited. Jurisdictions also generally require mandatory trapper education and mandatory reporting of all take (intended or incidental) as a condition of licensing.

Targeted or occasional harvest of bobcat occurs in 7 of 13 sub-national jurisdictions (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia); it has been prohibited in Quebec since 1991.

The annual Canadian bobcat harvest is in the order of 1,500 to just over 2,000 pelts, with approximately 65% harvested from Nova Scotia. The rest is primarily harvested in New Brunswick (20%) and British Columbia (10%).

In all jurisdictions, the management is done through a combination of area based systems (regions, management units, zones) and time based systems (seasons) which are regulated by local conditions and can include quotas as necessary. The species is available for harvest only for a small part of the year in all jurisdictions. The harvest season ranges from as early as November to end of February, or approximately 4 months of the year (with shorter seasons in some jurisdictions). Quotas are in place in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. The jurisdiction-specific management measures are included in provincial regulations which are generally amended on an annual basis.

Provincial and territorial government's management of harvest is conducted with a goal toward long-term population sustainability, critical to ensuring Canadian wildlife continues to fulfil its role in maintaining ecosystem biodiversity. Wildlife managers use the best available information to assess the sustainability of management decisions.

Overall, in Canada the level of illegal harvest and trade in this species is very limited. The provincial harvest management and reporting systems in place, the requirement for export permits for movement of furs (and other wildlife specimens) across provincial/territorial boundaries, and the limited opportunities to market furs in Canada makes illegal trade in bobcat furs difficult and of limited financial incentive. Provincial harvest management and inter-provincial export permit systems, coupled with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) export/re-export requirements, allows Canadian CITES authorities to confidently identify the origin and legality of exports leaving Canada. At the international trade level, Canadian enforcement data notes a total of 29 Felidae import specimens were seized over the last 10 years. There were no cases for Canadian Felidae exports.

Control of harvest

In Canada, harvest occurs on provincial public lands (crown land) and private land. Each provincial administrative region is generally divided into management units or zones in which wildlife harvest is managed through specific regulation based on the ecological characteristics of the territory or on local conditions. In all jurisdictions, provincial wildlife/conservation officers monitor compliance with the regulations of the jurisdiction (e.g. harvest seasons and zoning system).

The large majority of bobcat pelts harvested in each province are sold and exported through auction houses located in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources enforcement staff works very closely with the auction houses to ensure all pelts sold have legally left the province of origin (with a provincial export permit) and are accurately reported. These systems compliment controls occurring at the harvest level and provide an overall confidence in the high level of compliance with Canadian harvest and permit requirements.

Harvest trend

On average, 1,000 - 2,000 pelts are harvested annually in Canada. Amount of bobcat harvested annually has been increasing slowly over the past 10 years. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the main harvesting jurisdictions, trends in bobcat population levels combined with harvest success rates and monitoring of populations of bobcat prey species (snowshoe hare and other small mammals) is used to establish annual maximum allowable harvest.

Harvest monitoring

Where harvest is permitted, provincial wildlife acts and regulations require a license or permit for the catch, possession, sale and export of bobcat. The regulations also include specific provisions attached to the license/permit making submission of harvest and/or sales reports mandatory. In New Brunswick, the submission of carcasses is mandatory while Nova Scotia will periodically require carcass submission. Harvest limits are generally set through the monitoring of harvest statistics and are adaptive to changes in those indicators.

Incentives and benefits of harvest

Canadian provincial/territorial wildlife acts and their subsequent regulations were enacted to ensure the protection of Canadian species and the sustainability of use of those species. Sustainability of harvest through appropriate provincial regulation provides the basis for conservation.

Protection from harvest

The portion of bobcat natural range legally excluded from harvest includes many provincial and federal parks, reserves and management units including the portion of bobcat range found within the province of Quebec. Other protections are outlined in the description of current management practice.

Other relevant information

Information on harvest regulations and statistics are habitually published and available publicly on provincial/territorial websites or from provincial/territorial governments.

Jurisdictional Summary:
Province Species present Harvest occuring General Status
Harvest Regulations
British Columbia Y Y 4 - Secure Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch
Alberta Y Y 3 - Sensitive Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Saskatchewan Y Y 3 - Sensitive Ministry of the Environment
Manitoba Y Y 3 - Sensitive Conservation and Water Stewardship
Ontario Y Y 4 - Secure Ministry of Natural Resources
Quebec Y N 4 - Secure Natural Resources
New Brunswick Y Y 4 - Secure Natural Resources
Nova Scotia Y Y 4 - Secure Wildlife and Biodiversity
Prince Edward Island N (unlikely) N 7 - Exotic Island Information
Newfoundland and Labrador N N - Department of Environment and Conservation
Nunavut N N - Nunavut
Northwest Territories N N - Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Yukon N N blank Environment Yukon
Canada blank blank 4 - Secure blank

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