Guest Column: Help save the bobcats

By Sam Hagio
The Humane Society of the US

Citizens of Northern Illinois, please oppose pending state legislation legalizing bobcat hunting and trapping in Illinois for the first time since 1972.  HB 352 has already passed the House and is pending in the Senate committee, and SB 106 has passed out of committee, and is now pending a full Senate vote any day now.

Here are some key arguments against the bill:

Bobcat populations are still recovering. After their populations significantly dwindled due to overharvesting and habitat loss, they were placed on the state’s threatened species list in 1972.

A bobcat hunt is completely unnecessary. As their numbers are still recovering, bobcats are not overpopulating the state. Although they are apex predators, bobcats only weigh about 25-40 pounds. Shy and elusive creatures, they pose no threat to humans, and actually spotting a bobcat is a rare and treasured event. Because they prey on rabbits, mice and other small rodents they are actually considered beneficial to farmers.

Bobcats are hunted and killed using incredibly cruel and inhumane practices. If a hunting season is opened, bobcats may be chased by packs of dogs in a practice called “hounding.”  Houndsmen release the dogs to chase the wildlife through the woods, until the exhausted bobcat seeks refuge up a tree to escape the pack.

Bobcats are killed solely for trophies and their fur. Unlike most other species hunted in Illinois, bobcats are not hunted for their meat – people do not eat bobcat. Instead, bobcats are killed for their fur, as their beautiful pelts are prized in global markets. Furbearers are trapped in Illinois using cruel and painful leghold traps. As they struggle to escape, bobcats may injure and twist their limbs or damage their teeth trying to free themselves.

Killing an animal just for its fur commercializes the species. Because bobcats are only killed for a trophy or to sell their fur, this commercializes the entire species, and deprives Illinoisans of the opportunity to enjoy and experience that animal.

Yes, again, HB 352 has already passed the House and is pending in the Senate committee, and SB 106 has passed out of committee, and is now pending a full Senate vote any day now, which would legalize bobcat hunting and trapping in Illinois for the first time since 1972. Please call your state representatives and senators to tell them you oppose these bills as soon as possible.

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