Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Trapping bill faces opposition

February 18, 2008 at 07:14 AM

As expected, a pro-trapping bill currently in committee in Illinois faces opposition. House Bill 4632 would create a trapping season for river otters and bobcats, among other smaller, administrative details.

That doesn’t sit well with everyone. Google “Illinois bobcat trapping” and you can find several Web sites where people are urging others to fight against HB 4632. Writes one of those posters:

“As with many wild species, river otter and bobcat populations are naturally regulated by available food and habitat. Lethal control, however, can cause more otters and bobcats to reproduce, and encourages larger litter sizes because of decreased competition for food and habitat. As a result, killing these animals may actually be ineffective as it may cause an increase in the number of otters and bobcats.”

Expecting natural regulation is a bit of a farce given what we’ve done to the natural world. Obviously it’s not true for deer and Canada geese. In the absence of top-line predators, many of these species would actually increase beyond the carrying capacity. At that point, sickness and disease would become the form of natural regulation. Or maybe we could just hire sharpshooters, using tax dollars to pay for a service that hunters and trappers will pay to perform.

But is that what we really want? A bunch of animals that are dying from disease. Is that so much more humane than allowing some humans to hunt or trap these animals? And to pay for that right? Ahhh, don’t get me started.

Fortunately, not everyone is against the bill. Sierra Club spokesperson Jennifer Hensley told the Decatur Herald & Review (in an article published Feb. 13, 2008) that her organization will not protest the bill if “the state thinks the animal populations are large enough to safely trap them.” But Hensley is asking that the state up the fee to trap river otters and bobcats, something that will almost certainly happen if the bill passes.

“It seems a little odd that we’re having a season on animals that just got off the endangered list,” Hensley said.

That’s one perception the bill’s backers have to fight. It will be interesting to see what happens to this piece of legislation.

I suspect selling river otter trapping will be easier than selling bobcat trapping to the general public. I’ve already heard from a few hunters who don’t like the idea of trapping bobcats. But we’ll see. My prediction is this bill will never get out of committee. But I sure hope I’m wrong.

 

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