David Horning snapped this picture of a bobcat with its prey on Aug. 15, 2009 at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois.
Yes, there are bobcats in Illinois
The lack of knowledge about bobcats in Illinois never fails to amaze me.
There are still people, intelligent people who spend time in the woods and stay abreast of outdoor news, who express genuine surprise at the news there are bobcats around.
But there are numerous bobcats in Illinois, even though most of us never see them. There have been reliable sightings in 92 of the 102 Illinois counties and—unlike cougars—the Department of Natural Resources says there is a strong breeding population of bobcats. Click here to read the DNR’s take on bobcats.
Southern Illinois University research estimates more than 2,220 bobcats in the 13 southern-most counties, the highest concentration in the state.
“That’s a lot of cats. A healthy bobcat population exists in Illinois, most notably south of Interstate 64 and associated primarily with the Shawnee National Forest,” says Dr. Clayton Nielsen, a wildlife biologist at SIUC who helped conduct the studies.
People don’t see more of the cats because they are largely nocturnal and very secretive and can obviously pass undetected by most.
But not all. David Horning took the above picture of a bobcat with a rabbit on Aug. 15, 2009 at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. And a trail camera in Randolph County snapped the picture below of two bobcat kits.
Actually, bobcat sightings in southern Illinois have become fairly common for hunters and even just for hikers and casual outdoors enthusiasts.
And Bob Bluett of the DNR said there may be new hope for legislation that would open a trapping season for bobcats (as well as otters). At present, trapping these animals requires a CITES tag. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement designed to protect endangered species that may look like others that are more common.
Ending the CITES tag requirement, as some expect will happen in September, could more easily pave the way for bobcat and otter trapping in Illinois. The fact Gov. Blagojevich is gone could also be significant, since he had said he would oppose any such trapping legislation.
Time will tell whether a new bill can gain enough support.
But one thing’s for certain. The next time somebody talks about seeing or hearing a bobcat near you, there’s no reason for you to act surprised.