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Illinois hunting and fishing

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

August 19, 2009 at 09:16 PM

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.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

we rabbit hunt at cache river in southern Ill for the big swamp rabbits ..the rabbit ‘s suffered mightly at the claws of these killers a season,they aught to put a bounty on them…we used to jump 10 to 20 swampers a day,now you are lucky to jump 3to5 a day..used to see 4 or 5 covey of quail..aint seen a covey of quail down there in 4 years..we do see plenty of bobcat scat with rabbit hair in it though….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 06:14 AM

my cousin and her husband run BIGHORN OUTFITTERS in Pike County. They had a hunter film a bobcat a cornfield for over 1 hour last bow season. Two weeks ago they were able to get two trail cam pics of a different bobcat on camera.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 07:41 AM

SILOUTDOORS i think they are cleaning up whats left..there is a cottontail population down there, i hope they are feeding on them the most….i turkey hunt over at kirksville MO. they reintroduced the cats over there 10 years cant find a hunter over there that has anything good to say about the reintroduction of the cats…they say the cats are experts at picking the turk’s off the roast and grabbing chick’s….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 07:51 AM

Seen one in Marshall Co. between Chillicothe and Sparland Last year about 1:00 AM. on Rte. 29. so they must be in Central IL. too.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 10:32 AM

Yeah Jerry they have been in the central illinois area for sometime, I’ve seen a few myself. I do however have to think that while I’m sure they do prey upon animals we also like to hunt, I doubt they are the villians some would like to make them out to be. I think before we go and waste money on a bounty for bobcats maybe we should look at the coyote population, not that I want to pay for a bounty on either species. Trapping them would be the way to go and will provide anouther opportunity for trappers. The truth is man is the greatest predator on the planet even if we are not intentionaly over hunting, a lot of our actions have a huge impact on species be it from clearing brush on our lands, controled burning, to land developement and improved farming practices. Rabbits and other game animals have evolved to deal with natural predators such as bobcats, they didn’t however evolve to deal with loss of habitat and food sources, which is usualy the number one factor when seeing fewer numbers and unless I’m mistaken the swampys are a bit more picky about habitat than the Cotton tail.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 12:51 PM

I’ve seen several bobcats when I used to live down near Carbondale. In fact I have pics of one dragging away a road killed doe about 1/2 a mile from my house. I was surprised how strong that little cat was.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 01:32 PM

Why do you all get so worked up over a wild animal who’s cutting in on your hunting bounty? Don’t they have more of a claim to the rabbits than you? Would you rather the cats go down to subway and get a sandwich? no of course you want them wiped out. It’s nuts.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 02:13 PM

timmy there was a reason they shot the cat’s out years ago..those reasons are still good ones…more cats equal less small game..why spend our taxpayer dollars just to feed the cat’s…as far as yotes and trapping ,been a trapper for 40 + years ,unless yote hides go to $50.oo a peice trapping will have no effect on the swelling population…as far as the rabbits go ,dam right i care about thier population…more rabbits less felines…if they won’t open a season ,then how do you control the ever growing population of cat’s, they have nothing that prey upon them…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 02:33 PM

It’ll be a long time before we recognize that bobcats are overpopulated. It’ll take more than anecdotal accounts of declining small game numbers.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 03:16 PM

I have to agree with jeff2020, 2200 cats? That hardly seems enough to create a problem. The Coyotes numbers are out of this world and they do massive damage, along with the raccoons, to our turkey and small game eggs, young animals, etc. The U.S. government tried to eliminate the song dogs in the 40’s or 50’s I believe with no luck. They’re everywhere!

Posted by Marc Anthony on 08/20 at 03:28 PM

Just wait till the wild pigs of Texas get up here. They can not contain the “Pig Bomb” in the south. It is just a matter of time before they get up here.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/20 at 05:42 PM

No game no bobcats. I think it’s cool to have a few bobcats around. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have a food. Thats a good sign. And with most of the habitate gone in IL.that hold small game we should try and keep what critters we have left. But when the pigs get here from Ga. it’s BBQ time.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/21 at 07:49 AM

The only species that does “massive damage” here in Illinois is human JMHO.
I haven’t shot a coyotbe on my land in five years and I have healthy populations of turkey quail and rabbit. In fact we have an explosion of rabbits this year. Blaming dwindling populations of small game on a predator is shortsighted. It’s all about the habitat and a healthy wild cat population is surely a sign of good habitat.
That said, they no longer need full protection and trappers should be allowed to harvest bobcats just like any other furbearer. The trappers tried a bill a couple of years ago and they need to keep trying.

Posted by Henry Holt on 08/21 at 08:37 AM

They trap bobcat in Missouri too.

Posted by Henry Holt on 08/21 at 10:16 AM
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/21 at 10:57 AM

i seen one in the standing corn

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/21 at 08:47 PM

I agree that the coyote population is out of control. I live in the country near Decatur, Illinois. We used to have a good population of cottontails on our farm before the coyotes moved in. I haven’t seen a cottontail on my property in two years. Also, my neighbors are loosing a lot of cats. I would like to see coyote drives organized like fox drives used to be held.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/15 at 12:25 PM

I have read all of your comments and I just want to add that I am concerned about the bobcats in my back yard….It took my dog in broad daylight and has been hanging around outside of my house in the evening waiting to get my other dog.  Last year conservation was notified of their presence and obviously nothing was done.  I agree with the hunting of bobcats!  We have no squirrels or rabbits outside our house and the only thing left to wander is a possum and that would apparently be something they are not interested in.  I live in St. Clair County and would not expect bobcats to be taking over but they are!  Although it won’t bring my dog back…I would feel much better if the bobcats would move from this area.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/27 at 08:32 AM

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