Hunting Bobcat To be Legal in Illinois


There are only two species that kill for sport…just because they can: Humans and  chimpanzees. While chimpanzees actually craft crude weapons, us humans have become pretty efficient at killing for “sport.”

Bobcats will no longer be protected in the state, as IL. Gov. Bruce Rauner just signed a law (HB 352) which will allow for the hunting bobcat, shooting the regal cats, for the first time in decades.

Hunting was once stopped because the cats were disappearing. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and bobcat experts agree that due to the moratorium on hunting them, their numbers were finally creeping back up, giving the species a decent shot to survive in the state. However, it’s hardly that Illinois is being overrun by the cats.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources estimates the bobcat population has grown to 5,000 statewide, mostly in southern parts of the state. The estimate is based on Southern Illinois University research and anecdotal observations from deer hunters. There have been credible bobcat sightings in all but a few of Illinois’ 102 counties, state officials say, and population growth is estimated at about four to nine percent a year. Even if hunting somehow ethically made sense, this population growth rate may not keep up with the animals being hunted.

This new law, which amends the Wildlife Code, will permit the hunting or trapping of bobcats outside of open season. These dates are set annually by the Director of Natural Resources between November 1 and February 15. This new law also sets an in-season limit of no more than one bobcat taken per permit. It’s ironic that the Department of Natural Resources consider this issue. These cats are a resource to be treasured, not hunted. But this is more than ethical issue.

The value of apex predators is complex, called a trophic cascade. I am certain Gov. Rauner and proponents of this bill haven’t a clue what I am talking about. Perhaps they can watch this brief video. Perhaps, they can follow the science, and discuss with real wildlife experts before passing such legislation.

By legalizing the hunting of bobcat, we have no idea what the impact will be because no impact study was conducted. We do know, however, increased numbers would have been overall beneficial to the larger ecosystem. And we also know that when hunting is allowed, their numbers – if they grow at all – will grow much more gradually, and their numbers may even decline as a result. It’s not only a matter of how many bobcats are killed in hunts, it’s how bobcats live, they are solitary animals and are territorial. Killing just one may mean another may not reproduce for a very long time. In part, a potential partner, may not even live near enough to find.

Hmmm…Let’s face it – is this about selling bobcat pelt? I don’t believe that is legal or won’t be if this passes – but can you say ‘the Internet?’

We’re all quite critical – as we should be be – when lions or tigers are hunted for sport in their native exotic lands. Aside from the fact (and indeed it is a very sad fact) that all species of both large cats are endangered, I personally wonder what chance any animal has against a rifle. The bobcat is not different.

Gov. Rauner signed a death certificate for innocent animals, who not only don’t threaten us. He signed a law that will be detrimental to the greater Sate ecosystem. Clearly has no idea what the larger picture is. Maybe that’s the way he operates. Sadly, these beautiful animals lose out to ignorance, as does the state of Illinois.