CHICAGO — Former Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed House Bill 4226, which would have allowed bobcat hunting in Illinois.
The governor issued the following statement:
“We all have a responsibility to protect and maintain Illinois’ wildlife. Allowing people to hunt bobcats in Illinois violates that responsibility.
“Habitat loss and trophy hunting put bobcats on the threatened species list in 1977, and it was only recently that the bobcat population recovered enough to be removed from this list.
“Today I veto this bill because bobcats are a valuable part of Illinois’ ecosystem and continue to need protection.”
State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal (R-Morrisonville) sponsored the bill, which would have allowed the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to establish a hunting season between Nov. 1 and Feb. 15, and permit hunters to take one bobcat per person per season.
“With an estimated 3,000 bobcats currently living in Southern Illinois and other parts of the state, it is important that we gain control before their presence begins to impact the safety of our residents and other animals,” Rosenthal said in a press release on his website.
Bobcats in the state were protected by a continuous closed season in 1972, and the species was listed as a state threatened species in 1977. Bobcats were de-listed as a threatened species in 1999, leaving Illinois as one of only eight states that do not have a bobcat season. IDNR officials have stated establishing a bobcat season is consistent with the North American model of wildlife conservation. According to IDNR numbers, the bobcat population is growing at a rate of 4 to 9 percent annually in Illinois.
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Sam McCann (R-Jacksonville).