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The United Nations body regulating trade in endangered wildlife rejected a US motion to remove cross-border trade restrictions on the bobcat (Lynx rufus).
The bobcat has never been threatened with extinction and today roams much of North America in numbers ranging from 1.4 to 2.6 million. But the small spotted cat closely resembles its critically endangered cousin, the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), whose numbers have dwindled to less than 150, scattered across southern Spain.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) decreed in 1977 that exports of pelts and fur products of the bobcat must be registered and accompanied by permits. The two species, one endangered and one thriving, could be confused, deliberately or by accident.
Having recently created a fur identification guide to help customs and wildlife officials distinguish between species in the Lynx genus, the United States argued (for the fourth time) that the bobcat could be removed from CITES’ rules. But the proposal, backed by fur industry experts, was voted down.
“There are signs of a revitalized international trade in cat furs for fashion, and illegal trade problems are emerging,” the wildlife monitoring organization TRAFFIC said in recommending the US measure be rejected. For the period 2002-2008, just under 350,000 bobcat skins were exported from the USA, Canada and Mexico.
An excellent fact sheet on the Lynx species and the US proposal is available from the Species Survival Network.
A draft copy of the Wild Fur Identification Guide for Lynx Species (PDF) from Cornell University http://www.wildfurid.com/
Source: IUCN/SSC Cat News 52: Spring 2010
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