Bobcat Hunting photo

Photo courtesy Ken Kissel/Flickr

A bill to allow bobcat hunting in Illinois for the first time since 1972 now sits on Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk. Rauner, a Republican and a hunter, has given no indication as to whether he will sign the bill or veto it. His predecessor, Democrat Pat Quinn, vetoed a similar measure last year.

Since the ban on bobcat hunting went into effect, the population has rebounded to an estimated 5,000 animals. The measure would allow hunters to buy one bobcat tag a year, for $5, and the Illinois DNR predicts it will sell 500 permits.

The measure passed the House with the minimum number of required votes.

The main sponsor of the measure, Rep. Pat Verschoore (D-Milan), argued: “I just would like everyone to understand—you know, they think these are nice, cute, little kitties. Well, those nice, cute, little kitties grow up to be killers of livestock, small game, and companion animals.”

Others supporters of the bill made even more alarmist statements. Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein), warned: “Imagine a bobcat that’s 60 pounds that could attack and kill something ten times its weight. Think of a small child or a small woman or a small boy that could be attacked and carried away. That’s why we kill these things. That’s why we hunt them.”

As is often the case in Illinois politics, the debate over bobcats divides Chicago and the rest of the state. Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) said in opposition: “I like animals. When does it stop for you guys downstate to stop hunting animals? When is it going to stop?”