Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that would have allowed bobcat hunting in Illinois for the first time in more than 40 years.
Quinn says allowing hunting would violate a responsibility to maintain Illinois wildlife, noting that the population only recently rebounded enough to be removed from the threatened species list.
He says bobcats are “a valuable part of Illinois’ ecosystem and continue to need protection.”
Bobcats were removed from the threatened species list in 1999.
Illinois lawmakers approved the measure to allow hunting of the nocturnal, pointy-eared cats, saying they’d made enough of a comeback in the state.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources supported the move. Officials said the state’s bobcat population was believed to have rebounded to about 5,000 and regulated hunting could help in long-term management of the species.