ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Bobcat population in southern Illinois is more prevalent than in any other area of the state, but conservation officials are warning hunters not to jump the gun.
Earlier in January, two people were presented with 11 criminal charges after being accused of unlawfully killing a bobcat near Pinckneyville.
"We stress to the hunting public that it is their obligation and their responsibility to study up and learn the rules and regulations which involve all the different species," said Conservation Police Officer Chris Mohrman.
If a bobcat is killed in southern Illinois at this time, officials will normally donate its remains for scientific research at Southern Illinois University, since the species is not yet cleared for harvest.
"That's so we can keep an idea of how well they're doing out there in the wild," Mohrman said. "They'll test stomach contents to see about their general health, test their blood to see what kind of diseases they may be carrying, and kind of get an overall view of how the population is doing."
Another recent Bobcat appearance that's gotten some attention was in Ziegler, Illinois, with a happy ending.
Ziegler police say a bobcat was accidentally caught by a hunter's trap on the outskirts of town on Wednesday, January 27, but was released without injuries.
Lawmakers are working the kinks out of a proposed bobcat hunting season exclusively in the southern counties of Illinois due to a high population of the animal in the region.
Lawmakers are accepting public comment on the matter until March 7, 2016, and the season would be sometime in the fall of 2016.