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KC's Corner

Bobcat Season Under Attack - Again

Fri, March 11, 2016

Illinois’ new bobcat season is still facing possible attacks as we’re just months away from a possible first season in decades.  In the meantime, IDNR staff is still working out how to implement the season that was signed into law last year.

The bobcat season has been worked on for a while.  The Illinois Trappers Association (ITA) has been the driving force behind it for several years.  It came close to passing in 2014 when it passed the IL House by a 91-20 vote… and the IL Senate by a 30-19 vote, only to be vetoed by Governor Pat Quinn.  House Bill 352 passed in 2015 and was signed in to law last July by Governor Rauner.  After nine months of being law, we still have lawmakers trying to dismantle it… and we face a lot of unknowns how IDNR will regulate it.

Senate Bill 2143 was filed by Senator Don Harmon (D) from Oak Park, IL during last year’s session.  The original language was written to prohibit the sale of bobcat pelts in IL.  Instead of the normal route through the Agriculture Committee, like most hunting regulations, this bill was assigned to the Commerce & Economic Development Committee.

One day before this bill was to be heard in committee on March 3rd of this year, it was amended to exclude trapping as a means to take bobcats during the new season.  More backdoor politics by Springfield’s finest, trying to sneak in a last-minute amendment to avoid opposition to their attacks.

Luckily, the bill was not heard in committee on March 3rd, and was due to be called again on March 10th.  Another amendment was filed to clean up language on the trapping exclusion the day before the committee meeting.  By now, ITA had become aware of the amendments and was able to mount opposition to the bill (although the anti-hunters had more support on witness slips).  Senator Harmon held the bill again without calling it for a committee vote, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what will be tried next.

I’m not a trapper, but I support trapping 110%.  ITA has always had a strong presence in IL, and they always have went to bat on issues impacting their pastime.  In addition, they’ve been a strong advocate for hunter rights when deer hunting issues come up in IL.  Excluding trappers from the bobcat season is just plain wrong.  If it weren’t for the work of ITA, there would be no bobcat season in IL.  We all owe them our support on this one.

Which leads me to my next point… how the season and permits will be implemented.

In the proposed administrative rule, nearly 25% of the state will be excluded from the season.  While that may disappoint some, the bobcat population in this area just isn’t there.  Since the permits will be so limited anyway, why would you want to have possibly 25% of the permits given to hunters in areas where there are no bobcats?

Speaking of the permit allocation, the only thing proposed for the sale of permits is that they would be available online at 8:00 am on the first Tuesday in October.  No word if there will be a lottery draw.  I assume from the wording that it will be first come-first served.  Last I heard, only 500 permits would be made available.

What precautions are being taken to prevent anti-hunters from gobbling up available permits?  How are we making sure they get in the hands of hunters/trappers in areas that hold bobcats? Why no allocation by county, like deer permits, to get them to counties that hold the highest populations?  With permits being so limited, what are we doing to make sure everyone has a fair shot at a permit?  Is something in place to keep someone from drawing permits 2 years in a row, while others are left out?

Think about it… if only 500 permits are available statewide every year, your odds of ever getting a permit are slim.  With about 270,000 deer hunters in the woods… if they all applied for a permit, it would take about 540 years to get them all a permit!  Unfortunately, the very people who fought to get this season implemented, the trappers, probably face the worst odds of ever getting a permit.

If you’re lucky enough to draw a permit, hopefully IDNR law enforcement won’t enforce the law that’s currently in effect that makes it illegal to shoot a furbearer with the aid of the “tree-climbing device.”  In the past, treestands were considered tree climbing devices.  Under past IDNR administration, we were forced to change the statute just to get this changed to legally shoot coyotes from a treestand.

I know this is a pipe dream, but why can’t we have a system that puts the permits in areas/counties that need them… keeps them out of the hands of anti-hunters… and provides a method of allocation that makes sure everyone has an equal chance at a true once-in-a-lifetime permit?

Stay tuned for updates on how you can help support the trappers, and make your voice heard on SB 2143.  The next time the bill is scheduled to be heard in committee, you can file a witness slip to voice your opposition.  You can do it online.  It’s quick and easy, and we need to make sure legislators hear us.


Kevin, The intention of the original legislation was to create a bobcat season open to all outdoorsmen/women of Illinois, no matter the preferred method of take. At the Time there was no mention of closing any portion of the state, and in fact Bob Bluett of IDNR never even suggested it at the time, so this all came about I’m sure from some form of pressure from someone within that region to push for closing those counties. The problem with closing a certain region is trying to enforcing it, and by that a person can say they always harvested it in a county that was legal, unless of course caught in the act afield, but this also at the same time makes every legal person a suspect of an illegal action at the same time. This does nothing but create a nightmare for CPO’s, and the last thing we need is any more gray areas when it comes to the wildlife code

The ITA gave a lot of wiggle room to the IDNR on this legislation due to the nature of the species, because bobcat populations can fluctuate very rapidly at times, so a lot more lets say power was given to the IDNR under this legislation, but only when it comes to bobcats, and not other furbearing species. I guess the old saying give an inch take a mile is true, because I don’t think this legislation should have moved forward if we knew part of the state was going to be closed, and I darn sure would have never moved forward under those pretenses.

As to the permits, we had to open it up to everyone or this would have never moved forward, and the main reason I say that is because of the archery hunters. The archery hunters put a lot of hours afield every year, and the archery hunters were helping the trappers with reporting sightings, giving back information that was very helpful in understanding this animal completely, and helped in the whole process of bringing this animal back to the greater numbers we have today. In whole this was a total group effort by sportsmen/women of all types in Illinois, and that is what make it so darn special. This should have made the news and celebrated has a grand conservation victory for all sportsmen/women across the country, but the sad fact was it never was.

Kevin, I think in regards to the whole tree climbing device issue could be solved if instead of regulating devices like the current regulations does just say the act of denning in any manner is illegal no matter the tools used. In others words regulate the act, and not the devices, this would sure clear up a gray area that has been existence for some time now, and created by the DNR themselves. You would have to exempt water animals like muskrat, beaver, otter, and mink from that, because of the manner most of them are harvested, but this is very doable Kevin.   

Kevin I made some contacts recently as to the possibility of this language moving forward, both ITA, and Fur Takers of America people, and they felt it was no big deal, well surprise, surprise, surprise. We have to be diligent when it come to protecting what we love and care for in this country, and always be present to beat these kind of action back. Kevin thank you for posting this info, and keeping an eye on this matter.





Posted by Ringtailtrapper on March 12

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