Trapping or hunting seasons help bobcat populations remain healthy when properly managed by wildlife professionals. It is healthier and more humane to be dispatched by a hunter or trapper than by Mother Nature by parasitic diseases, mange or distemper, all of which become greater threats the closer to dense population areas that bobcat populations grow.
Illinois now has 5,000 bobcats and they are reported in all 102 counties.
When bobcat populations are kept in check, bobcats remain healthier by limiting disease impact and other issues related to overpopulation.
In some areas, trapping or hunting seasons have helped populations grow because the adult tomcats were removed and the population exploded. The removal of old toms, known to kill younger males, allowed young toms to survive and increase the population.
For a decade, officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have presented data backing a season on bobcats. Just this winter, Bob Bluett, the IDNR wildlife biologist who has worked on the data side of bobcats for years, told the Sun-Times, “Now, we have enough bobcats and in enough places that we can manage to have a sustainable harvest without having crazy or hard-to-understand regulations.’’
House Bill 0352 would open such a management window for bobcats. The bill recognizes that bobcats have a place in the modern ecosystem of Illinois, but also recognizes the reality that bobcats are killing machines within that modern ecosystem.
Bobcats have to kill to eat. Their predation affects songbirds, game birds and even deer. Yes, those cute spotted fawns become dinner for bobcat families.
There’s checks and balances within nature.
In the modern world, those checks and balances need to managed because of human impact.
By putting the hunting and trapping season on bobcats in Illinois, we are not out to eliminate or annihilate the bobcats, just add another way to keep the populations in check.
With the IDNR data showing we need a bobcat season, and the IDNR is who should be managing the wildlife and nature resources of our state, we will be closely regulated in the bobcat season just as we are in everything else.
Neal Graves is president of the Illinois Trappers Association.