Governor Quinn vetoes open season on bobcats in Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn rejected a measure, which would have established a statewide bobcat hunting season to “manage” an alleged abundance of the animals in Illinois.After four decades of protection, the bobcats of Illinois nearly became targets for hunting and trapping when the state legislature passed a pro-hunting bill earlier this year.

The elusive cats were once nearly extinct in the state, prompting a 1972 hunting ban that began the species’ road to recovery – a road that would have been abruptly blocked had H.B. 4226 become law.

Fortunately, Governor Pat Quinn rejected the measure, which would have established a statewide bobcat hunting season to “manage” what the bill’s supporters described as an abundance of the animals in Illinois. Despite making such claims, proponents of the legislation failed to provide sound science indicating that a hunt is necessary and/or appropriate.

It is primarily because of the longstanding hunting and trapping ban that Illinois bobcat populations have been brought back from the brink of extinction. Although populations are healthier than they once were, the animal’s recovery is nowhere near complete, and opening a hunting season on the bobcat—especially during its critical breeding period—would have meant backtracking on this important progress.

Bobcats are worth far more to Illinois’ residents alive than dead.

They are not a substantial threat to humans, game or livestock and, as native predators, they play a key role in maintaining ecosystem health. In fact, acknowledging these animals’ value, California passed legislation to protect bobcats just last year!                                                                                              

In addition to ecological consequences, enactment of H.B. 4226 would have been accompanied by alarming cruelty. Bobcats could have been subjected to extremely inhumane capture and kill methods, including the use of leg-hold traps, hunting dogs, and bows and arrows—all of which could cause the animals extended and unnecessary suffering.

And so, following an outpouring of opposition to H.B. 4226, the Governor vetoed the inhumane and short-sighted bill.

We applaud Governor Quinn’s strong record on animal welfare issues and thank him for cementing this legacy by standing up for Illinois’ wildlife during his final days in office.

--CB

For more information on IFAW Political Advocacy efforts, visit our campaign page.

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