The Illinois General Assembly recently approved HB4226 which would allow bobcat hunting in Illinois. There was much opposition to this bill and it passed in the Illinois Senate by only one vote. The bill was rushed through the Illinois Senate, being allowed to waive several rules. Full testimony by ecologists and other opponents was never considered.
Bobcat hunting was banned in Illinois in 1972 after the species became threatened. Bobcat populations have recovered in several counties - a recent SIU study found significant recovery in 17 counties in Southern Illinois. Bobcats are important apex predators that live on a diet of rodents and small mammals and contribute to an overall healthy ecosystem.
The bill that passed has significant issues. First, the bill does not limit the areas or set bobcat population standards for counties to restrict hunting; hunting can be allowed in any county in the state. Second, the proposed season overlaps portions of the bobcat breeding season, putting both bobcats with kittens and pregnant bobcats at risk. Finally, there is no emergency procedure to close the season if the species becomes threatened again.
There has been significant citizen opposition on this bill and it helped to almost defeat the bill in the Senate. Ask the Governor to veto this bill.