Bob cat trappers in western Montana have been forced to pull bob cat traps within the first 4 week of season in recent years because the quotas were being met so quickly.
Likewise, houndsmen have faced the end of bobcat chases when area quota’s filled quickly. This year is different though as reflected in the harvest numbers as of December 25, (2016).
In Region 2 only 78 of 200 bobcats have been harvested, Region 3 has a reported take of just 138 of 250 and the strongest harvest is in region 1 where 200 of 275 allowable bobcats have been harvested. Other regions have a very low harvest comparatively.
Part of the reason for this is that fur prices are low this year as the international fur market struggles to recuperate from the high dollar hangover felt after a fur boom in 2012-13. High prices paid for raw pelts during that time period are still affecting the costs of manufacturing garments now. With low fur prices it is hard for trappers to cover the expense of travelling to check traps.
Parts of Montana have highly sought after coyotes that bring $100 or more but most trappers don’t live where the coyotes are of that quality and must trap for other furbearing animals like marten, otter and beaver. Without the money available to cover gas it is a gamble whether to pursue bob cats because catch rates are not high.
Good Quality bobcats are still bringing premium prices and Montana has a well managed population to draw from.
But the weather has been tough with heavy snows making harvest difficult. The good news is that for trappers willing to push hard to keep traps working their reward can be great catches of the elusive felines.
Good luck out there!