Several people who have applied for bobcat hunting licenses have no intention of hunting the animals.
With the beginning of Illinois’ first bobcat hunt in decades beginning Nov. 10, multiple news outlets are reporting anonymous animal activists bragging about how they received one of the 500 coveted licenses and have no intention to hunt. People have posted pictures of their bobcat hunting license on social media, saying they’re “saving one life.”
Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Tim Schweizer said they will simply sell more next year.
“If the harvest target should fall short, the department could just opt to issue more permits next year and in years going forward until we reach that harvest goal.”
Schweizer said they aren’t short on applicants. The state had 6,416 applications to take down a bobcat, over 1,000 more willing hunters than bobcats in the state.
“Here in Illinois, we don’t check to see what your interest is in applying for that permit,” Schweizer said. Schweizer said that of all who have applied for a $6 permit, 98 percent were existing IDNR customers, implying that the number of activists getting licenses was small.
Southern Illinois lawmaker Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, said bobcats in his county need to be kept from overpopulating like other carnivorous animals have.
“This is a mechanism to keep from having another population explosion as what’s happened with the coyotes,” Meier said. “(The activists) are going to allow the population to explode and damage other populations in the environment.”
The bobcat population is estimated to be around 5,000 in Illinois. They were listed as protected from 1972 to 1999. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into legislation a bill allowing an annual bobcat hunt in an effort to control the population from unbalancing the state’s ecosystem.
The Humane Society of the U.S. called the bill “completely unnecessary” and said that there is no risk of bobcats overpopulating Illinois again soon. The group also raised concerns over hunting practices of the wild cats.
“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,” said the Humane Society’s Director of Wildlife Protection Sam Hagio.
There is currently a bill in Springfield that would make the sale of a bobcat pelt captured in Illinois a petty offense.
The official bobcat season starts on Nov. 10 and runs through January, with the trapping season beginning in the northern region on Saturday and Nov. 10 in the south.
–Illinois News Network & Staff reports