Bobcat, otter trapping bill introduced
In a surprising turn of events, Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) has introduced House Bill 4632, legislation that would allow for trapping of river otters and bobcats in Illinois.
The surprise involved has nothing to do with the science or even the practicality of such a bill, which many believe is long overdue. Both species of furbearers are well-established in Illinois.
River otters have gone from a protected species to an annoying species in some cases, where they create problems for small pond owners by eating large numbers of fish. The river otter population in Illinois is believed to range between 10,000 to 15,000, thanks largely to release programs the state initiated in the 1980s and 90s. Click here for a summary of information on river otters in Illinois.
Bobcats are believed to be present in at least 92 of Illinois’ 102 counties and sightings of these secretive cats increased 479 percent from 1992 to 2006 according to surveys of archery deer hunters. The state believes the bobcat population ranges between (at least) 2,000 to 3,000. Click here for a summary of information on bobcats in Illinois.
Despite that, it was believed that no bill allowing trapping of those two furbearers would arise again while Gov. Blagojevich was in office. In 2005 Blagoejvich vetoed a bill that would have allowed for the use of restraints. Click here to read his office’s explanation.
But working with the Illinois Trappers Association, Phelps last week introduced House Bill 4632. Here is a synopsis of the bill as introduced:
“Amends the Wildlife Code. Authorizes the taking of bobcats and river otters. Authorizes the Department of Natural Resources, by rule, to require a Bobcat Harvest Permit, a River Otter Trapping Permit, and pelt tags. Sets fees. Makes changes concerning the open season for coyotes and striped skunks. Deletes restrictions concerning having green hides out of season. Makes changes concerning pursuing fur-bearing mammals with dogs and concerning illegal methods of trapping.”
Click here to review the status of the bill.
Both seasons would likely be highly regulated, as they are in Iowa. Missouri and Kentucky also have seasons for bobcats and otters.
Any law passed in Illinois would have to be reviewed and approced by the federal government, since both bobcats and river otters are covered by international treaty.