Hunters in the Land of Lincoln will now have the opportunity to hunt bobcats with the establishment of a new season.
House Bill 352 to establish a hunting season for the big cats was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner on Tuesday the Southern Illinoisan reported.
The season, which will be set between November and February, will be the first time Illinois hunters have been able to hunt bobcats since low numbers caused a ban in 1972.
The cats have officially been off the list of threatened species in Illinois for the last 16 years. It isn’t the first time supporters have attempted to move legislation establishing a bobcat hunting season. Previous attempts have come under scrutiny and attack. Former Illinois governor Pat Quinn shot down attempts to sign through legislation for a season last year.
Humane Society Chief Wayne Pacelle immediately blasted Rauner’s decision to sign through the new law, saying the bill was passed through “absurd and outlandish exaggerations about bobcats.” The Humane Society has been arguing since the measure left the Senate that bobcats kill mice and rats and are helpful to farmers.
Those in support of the bill said it was for population control reasons.
Rauner had no comments on the issue when he signed it and no releases about the new bill have shown up on the governor’s website.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has plans to issue 500 permits in the first season, with the goal to limit the number of bobcats taken to about 300. Areas around Chicago will be excluded from the seasons.