IDNR: More would-be bobcat hunters than bobcats - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

IDNR: More would-be bobcat hunters than bobcats

(Source: AP Images) (Source: AP Images)

There are more people in Illinois who want to hunt bobcats than there actually are bobcats in Illinois.

Some are worried that could spell bad news for the formerly protected animal.

“You know, it's not like they're running in the streets,” said Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation owner Beverly Shofstall. “They're solitary and they cover a very large territory, so, if you see one and then a week later you see another one, that's probably the same bobcat.”

This season will be the first bobcat hunting season since the new rules for hunting them went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Before that, their numbers were considered too low to be hunted without causing irreparable damage to local populations.

Now, populations are on the rise and sightings are far more common, according to the Illinois Department of Natural resources.

“If there is too many of one species, then the entire species suffers," said Tombstone Gun Range owner J.D. Barter. “There are no natural predators for them around here, so that’s where hunters have an opportunity to help keep them at bay, and hopefully eliminate competition for food and resources within the species itself.”

For the 2016-2017 season, only 500 permits will be granted, out of the 6,416 hunters who applied.

IDNR estimates there are around 5,000 of the animal throughout the state, mostly residing in southern Illinois.

Barter also said he’s not surprised to see such an interest in hunting the creature from the hunting and trapping community.

“Hunting a bobcat is not easy,” Barter said. “They are quick, they pay attention to their surroundings very much, and it's a challenge to hunters, and therefore an attractive animal for sportsman."

The IDNR’s guidelines are listed below. More can be found by clicking here.

  • Harvest of bobcats will be prohibited in northeastern and east-central Illinois.  
  • People must purchase a $5 Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Permit before attempting to take the species. A limited number of permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. 
  • The bag limit will be one bobcat per person per season. 
  • Hunting season dates will run from November 10 through January 31 with brief closures during the firearm deer season. 
  • Trapping season dates will run from November 5 through January 20 in the northern zone and November 10 through January 25 in the southern zone. 
  • People who harvest a bobcat must purchase a $5 Bobcat Registration Permit. They will be mailed a federal tag, which must be affixed permanently to the pelt before it is exported or transferred to a fur buyer, fur tanner, taxidermist or garment manufacturer. 

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