Protect Bobcats in Illinois!

bobcatBobcat hunting legislation is back! Please ask your legislators to oppose HB352/SB106.

A bill that is currently moving through Illinois legislature will amend the wildlife code and remove the prohibition of taking bobcats in the State – previously banned since 1972 because the species became threatened. The current estimated population of bobcats is around 3,000 with most of the population located in the southern region of the state.  Their diet consists of mainly rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents making them an important part of our ecosystem.

Governor Quinn vetoed this bill in January, just before leaving office, but it’s back for the 2015 session.

HB352/SB106 will allow a person to trap or to hunt bobcats with gun, dog, dog and gun, or bow and arrow during the proposed hunting season. The season limits one bobcat per person, but the bill does not indicate whether permits will be limited to control the number of bobcats taken. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources does not have a management or sustainability plan in place for bobcats and most of the related research has been conducted in the southern region of Illinois.  There is tremendous concern that this plan does not take into account ecological science for best practices for bobcat protection in Illinois.  For example, there is little research on populations in the northern and central region of Illinois.  In addition, this legislation does not take into account emergency procedures to close the season if the species becomes threatened again.

The prices offered for pelts have significantly increased. With that comes increased interest in harvesting species like the bobcat. Even with a limit of one bobcat per person, it is quite probable that a significantly greater number of bobcats could be harvested during the proposed season. That raises additional concerns that harvesters may take more bobcats than the population can sustain.

The fur of the bobcat is better quality once the weather becomes colder. Given that Illinois winters generally are not cold enough to produce the high-quality fur until December or January; it appears that the season starts too early.

Additionally, bobcats can still have kittens that are just weeks old as late in the season as the end of November. If kittens are left abandoned because their mother was taken, this will increase kitten mortality rates and raise even more concerns about sustainability.

Without a management or sustainability plan and without additional studies, this wildlife code should NOT be amended to allow the removal of the prohibition of taking bobcats. This species needs to remain protected to prevent it from being added to the threatened list again.

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