HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL APPLAUDS A U.N. DECISION TO PROTECT BOBCATS
The Hague, The Netherlands—The bobcat, also known as the American lynx, will remain protected under a United Nations treaty despite an effort by the United States to eliminate such protection. The decision was made today at a meeting of the 171 countries that are members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), taking place in The Netherlands from 3-15 June.
The bobcat is a small, spotted wild cat native to Canada, the United States and Mexico. They are trapped in the wild for their fur which is made into garments. More than 53,000 skins are traded 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 the 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 as well as other endangered and threatened lynx species including the Eurasian lynx, Canada lynx and Mexican bobcat.
The United States proposed to remove CITES protection for the bobcat despite the fact that the most recent population estimate for the United States if over 25 years old and there are no population estimates for Canada or Mexico; the wild population of bobcat is considered to be decreasing; 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.
The proposal was opposed by European countries and Mexico, and was soundly defeated in a vote of 63 opposed, 28 in favor and 9 abstentions. Although it is technically possible for the vote to be reconsidered later in the meeting, this is highly unlikely due to the resounding defeat.
“Bobcats are the most highly traded cat species in the world,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “CITES protection is vital to insure that trade does not harm bobcat or other related lynx populations.”