Killing Bobcats in Illinois May Be Approved: Really


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Killing Bobcats could become legal in Illinois. Interesting how critical we are of people killing Cheetah or Lion in Africa, or Tigers in Asia or Siberia….Yet, in our own backyard we want to make it legal to gun down Bobcats because a handful of farmers may potentially be dealing with them….That’s the thing, it’s not like Bobcats are currently raiding Illinois farms.

From 1977 to 1999 you likely wouldn’t see the threatened species in Illinois, ever. Gradually, given the chance, since hunting had stopped, the cats had an opportunity to make a comeback, of sorts.

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. Still we are hardly inundated with these cats.

Thing is according to experts, the population is hardly out of control. In fact, Bobcats do sometimes eat young deer (which many agree there  are too many of), and rodents which annoy farmers (and others), as well as rabbits and pretty much anything they can catch. Instead of focusing on how to live with the cats, and protecting farm animals about what is only an impending threat, the focus is on the easy and really sad way out, shoot and kill.

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.

Yet, as I said, if India said, “Let’s shoot all our tigers, they can eat people” which on very rare occasions they do – we would be outraged. And arguably rightly so. But Bobcats don’t eat people, or even are a threat.

Seems to me than – for whatever the reason – some folks just want to shoot Bobcat. Illinois legislators have an image issue as it is – here’s an opportunity to take a stand to do the right thing.

Let’s do some science to determine what the Bobcat lifestyle really and truly is. And let’s at least find a way to co-habitate with these elusive and beautiful animals.

It appears as though (in Illinois politics you never know) the Senate will vote this week, potentially as soon as this Tuesday. Here’s an easy way to reach out and make a difference, through the Illinois Environmental Council.