INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is proposing a designated hunting and trapping season for bobcats, which were once endangered.

Bobcats were removed from the endangered species list in 2005, the Indianapolis Star reported . Department officials said the bobcat population has expanded in recent years.

The department's proposal would establish quotas and bag limits. The proposal says that the season would be open in a limited number of counties.

The department said a regulated season would "increase recreation and economic opportunities for businesses and individuals."

But wildlife and environmental groups contend that while the bobcat population has gradually grown, there's no data to show that the population could support opening a season.

"To open up a hunting and trapping season on such a vulnerable species without scientific data to back it up is unwise," said Erin Huang, the Indiana State Director of the U.S. Humane Society. "This is a species that is not causing a problem — livestock predation is rare and there are no reported attacks on pets, so I just don't see a reason for it."

The department has proposed the changes before the Natural Resources Commission, which is accepting public comments until March 23.

The Commission is expected to vote on the proposed hunting season in May. If approved, a hunting season could open in 2019.

"Once all the input and feedback is gathered and put together after the comment section is open, that will shed light on if there is enough of these bobcats and if there should be a season," Engelking said. "DNR is the one in charge, so if they think it's good then I'll agree with it."


Information from: The Indianapolis Star,