Bobcats in Illinois and Indiana are the latest example of conservation success stories in state wildlife management. In Illinois, 2016-17 marked the first hunting/trapping season for bobcats in decades. Here’s a recap:
New Illinois Hunting and Trapping Season for Bobcats a SuccessPreliminary harvest of 141 bobcats
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Hunters and trappers took a preliminary total of 141 bobcats during the 2016-17 Illinois Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Season.
“We are very pleased with the response to Illinois’ new hunting and trapping season for bobcats,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Wayne Rosenthal. “The recovery of the bobcat is a conservation success story in Illinois. We were pleased with the response of hunters and trappers that applied for permits, and we will continue to evaluate the program.”
More than 6,400 people applied for 500 permits to take bobcats. Those awarded a permit in the lottery were required to register their harvest within 48 hours and purchase a Bobcat Pelt Temporary Permit. They reported taking 69 bobcats by hunting, 49 by trapping, 12 by archery, and salvaging 11 from roads. Bobcats were harvested in 44 counties in the open zone, which included western and southern parts of the state. Top counties were Pike (11), Jackson (10), Jefferson (7), Carroll (6), and Randolph (6).
There are a few new wrinkles for bobcat hunters and trappers in Illinois this season.
The state is doubling the number of bobcat permits for the 2017 season, up to 1,000. But it also is putting a cap on the number of cats that can be caught, at 350.
Ed Cross with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said the idea is to give more people a chance to get into the field. Cross said there’s little worry that a hard cap on the harvest will cut anyone’s season short. Of the 500 permits issued last year, hunters and trappers caught 141 cats.
“If you look at last year’s success rate, it was 28 percent,” Cross said. “We figure this year, that 28 percent to 35 percent [success rate] is a good target number.”
Cross said DNR is also changing where hunters and trappers can operate.
“There were some counties that were partially in and partially out,” Cross said. “Those [partial] counties are now completely out.”
Bobcat hunting has always been banned in Chicago and the suburbs. The end of partial counties participating means that hunters essentially will have only the southern two-thirds of the state, from about Logan County to the southern tip of Illinois, to work with.
Hunters and trappers have until the end of the week to apply for a permit. Bobcat season in Illinois starts Nov. 10.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, the emergence of a thriving bobcat population has the DNR considering opening a hunting/trapping season. The season would be limited and wouldn’t start this year, but looks to be a great possibility.
DNR spokesperson Marty Benson says the hunting proposal is the mark of a successful wildlife management program.
“Bobcat populations are expanding and thriving in Indiana. They’ve been protected for nearly 50 years,” Benson says. “They’re now common in southern Indiana and continue to expand throughout the state, and we’re very happy about that.”
It’s great to see furbearer conservation success stories, and the continued recognition of bobcats as a sustainable, renewable resource that trappers can help manage.