Bobcat hunting and trapping is another step closer to becoming a reality, after legislation sponsored by State Senator Sam McCann (R-Carlinville) passed the Illinois Senate. The legislation was an initiative of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which has asked for the bobcat hunting season as a tool to control the growing bobcat population.
“I am proud to have passed this legislation which was specifically requested by the scientists and wildlife biologists who maintain and protect bobcat populations,” said Sen. McCann, “This is a proactive step to safeguard our natural resources before there are serious issues from potential overpopulation.”
According to IDNR, currently Illinois is one of only seven states without a bobcat hunting season, though Indiana is currently considering adding a season as well. In 1972, due to concerns over declining bobcat populations, the season was closed. The species was listed as threatened in 1977. The state’s bobcat population is now growing 4-9% per year.
House Bill 352 will allow the Director of IDNR to set the bobcat season between Nov. 1 and Feb. 15. The bill also sets a limit of one bobcat per hunter per year. In addition, IDNR is authorized to charge a reasonable fee of $5 per bobcat permit.
A recent amendment states that the harvest of bobcats in Illinois shall be non-detrimental, according to federal wildlife regulations and standards from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This amendment is a safeguard to protect the bobcat population if their numbers drop below acceptable levels,” said Senator McCann. “If the department of natural resources believes the bobcat population is too low, they have the ability to reduce the number of permits issued, and can effectively stop hunting and trapping.”
Because of that amendment, the legislation now heads back to the House for a concurrence vote before the bill can be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Supporters of the legislation include the IDNR, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois State Rifle Association, and the Illinois Wildlife Control Operators Association.
Senator McCann speaks on behalf of his legislation to create a bobcat hunting season.