Bobcat hunting could soon be the next addition to Illinois's hunting seasons.
On Tuesday, an Illinois House committee approved a proposed bill to legalize bobcat hunting in the state, reported the Herald & Review.
Bobcat hunting has been prohibited in Illinois since 1972. The state put bobcats on their list of endangered species in 1977. They were removed from the list in 1999 after their populations stabilized. Now, the state DNR estimates they are growing at a rate of 4% to 9 % a year. Southern Illinois has an estimated 3,000 bobcats, and the west-central region of the state also has high numbers.
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The bill's author, Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, says the proposed bobcat hunting season would help keep Illinois's bobcat numbers in check.
"This just allows the Department of Natural Resources and their biologists to manage them like they do any other species within the state," said the bill's author, Rep. Wayne Rosenthal.
Bobcats are nocturnal and elusive hunters that typically feed on squirrels, rabbits, and small rodents. Rosenthal said that allowing bobcat hunting would help preserve the species they prey on.
"Bobcats are predators, similar to coyotes. This just gives us a chance to manage their population up front," Rosenthal told WSIL-TV.
The proposed bill will now go to the floor of the Illinois House for further debate. It is expected to pass.
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