JOSHUA TREE (CBSLA.com) — Residents in one Southland desert community are coming together to save the bobcat.
Locals near Joshua Tree National Park have pushed lawmakers in Sacramento to pass Assembly Bill 1213, which would make it unlawful to trap or attempt to trap, sell or export any bobcat or part of any bobcat taken in the area surrounding the Park.
The bill, known as the “Bobcat Protection Act of 2013″, comes after state Fish and Game officials reported 1,500 bobcats were trapped in desert areas last year – more than double that of the number of trappings in 2009.
Wildlife expert Michael Vamstad with the Joshua Tree National Park told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the data points to a long-running trend.
“Trapping, for the past ten years, has been higher than it had been historically,” Vamstad said.
A large percentage of bobcat skins are often exported overseas to be made into clothing and other items, Vamstad added.
Volunteers with Project Bobcat started an online petition back in February that called on Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials to ban the trapping of bobcats throughout the Morongo Basin, but only 2,200 supporters signed on for the campaign.
AB 1213 would prohibit any bobcat trappings in the areas east and south of State Highway 62 from the intersection of Interstate 10 to the intersection of State Highway 177; west of State Highway 177 from the intersection of State Highway 62 to the intersection with Interstate 10; and north of Interstate 10 from State Highway 177 to State Highway 62.
Lawmakers are expected to hold a Committee hearing on AB 1213 in August.