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Illinois House committee passes bill legalizing bobcat hunting

February 26, 2014
Mature bobcats are between 2 and 3 feet long and weigh as much as 40 pounds.

Mature bobcats are between 2 and 3 feet long and weigh as much as 40 pounds.

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

An Illinois House committee, on Tuesday, approved a bill allowing hunters to kill bobcats for the first time in more than 40 years.

The bill would allow licensed hunters to take one bobcat from Nov. 1 through Feb. 15. If the bill becomes law, bobcat hunting will be legal for the first time 1972.

Hunting bobcats became illegal to stop the decline in population.

By the early 1900s, bobcats were in danger of being eliminated in Illinois. Today, between 3,000 and 4,000 cats are living in the southern part of the state, south of Illinois Route 64.

It is unknown how many bobcats are in the Rockford area. However, they are sometimes seen in wooded areas along the banks of the Rock River.

According to the University of Illinois, bobcats feed on small mammals and rodents. In rural areas, they are considered farm pests, killing chickens and other animals. Bobcats have also been known to kill deer.

Bobcats begin mating in their first or second years. Breeding occurs fromJanuary through June. Females typically birth one litter of two or three kittens each year. Kittens usually stay with their mother through the fall.

The bill now heads to the Illinois House.

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