Prehistoric Logic: the Illinois Legislature’s Attack on Bobcats

By on June 15, 2015 with 29 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Two weeks ago, the Illinois House of Representatives voted by the narrowest of margins to approve a bill to reverse the state’s 42-year ban on commercial trapping and sport hunting of bobcats and to send that bill, HB 352, to the governor for his consideration. Governor Bruce Rauner, a first-term Republican, can sign or veto the bill any day. The HSUS and major papers in Illinois—including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, and the Jacksonville Courier-Journal—are urging Rauner to veto the bill, along with the Illinois Environmental Council, Sierra Club Illinois, and a host of other organizations.

In an unusual proceeding, two hours before they approved HB 352, the same set of lawmakers rejected it, coming well short of the total number of votes needed to pass the bill. A group of downstate lawmakers forced a re-vote, and they somehow persuaded nine of their colleagues to switch their votes from “no” to “yes”, giving the bill its reed-thin majority. The flip-floppers are: Representatives Patricia Bellock (R-47), Dan Brady (R-105), Tim Butler (R-87), Jim Durkin (R-82), Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-92), David Leitch (R-73), Michael McAuliffe (R-20), David McSweeney (R-52), and Christine Winger (R-45).

What caused these officials, mainly from the suburbs of Chicago, to turn tail and vote to authorize the killing of bobcats? It could not have been rational argument, because here are actual excerpts from the floor speeches of the leading proponents of HB 352:

“I saw one of these walk across my backyard and I thought I was looking at a saber-toothed tiger.” —Rep. John E. Bradley (D-117)

“I have started finding young fawns, and the only thing I find is a pool of blood in the wheat and their head.” … “The rest of that little young deer is gone.  I attribute this to the time that the bobcats came.  Bambi is being killed by bobcats.” —Rep.  Charles E. Meier (R-108)

 “So imagine a bobcat that’s 60 pounds that could attack and kill something 10 times its weight.” … “Think of a small child, or a small woman, or a small boy, that could be attacked and carried away.  That’s why we kill these things.  That’s why we hunt them.” —Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-51)

If this is the level of discourse typical in the Illinois legislature, and if these statements count as persuasion, then the good state of Illinois is in trouble.

The reality is that bobcats are shy, elusive, and small creatures. They’re generally a little larger than a good-sized house cat, usually weighing about 20 pounds.  Most of their diet consists of rodents, though they do kill rabbits and even fawns. Let us remember, that’s what predators do. And that’s what provides balance in nature.

Governor Rauner came into office saying he was going to clean up Illinois. He was going to do what’s right for the state and not be beholden to special interests or participate in backroom deal-making.

He can start right here then. Killing bobcats is not going to make or break Illinois’s budget, reduce its deficit, or solve its pension troubles.  But the issue is nonetheless a good, simple test of the basic values of the state. Will Illinois’ leaders choose stewardship or cruelty? And will decisions be made on the basis of bullying and strong-arming, or will there be deliberation and good sense shown in the halls of government?

Governor Rauner is the one man who can take a small and important step for good government and humane values. In the scheme of things, HB 352 is a small concern for the state, but it’s a matter of life or death for hundreds of animals who did nothing to deserve this fate. If Governor Rauner signs the bill, these beautiful animals will know steel traps, packs of dogs, and large-caliber bullets. You can see the effects of that here.

Call Governor Rauner today, and tell him to veto HB 352. Let him know that that bobcats don’t deserve this barbaric treatment.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Uncategorized, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jason Bryant says:

    Please stop the barbaric practice of hunting and trapping Bobcats.

  2. D V H says:

    Trophy hunting is vain and unnessesary and your state can make money another way.

  3. karen maish says:

    please veto bill hb352!!!

  4. Linda Middleton says:

    Please do some research and stops listening to scare tactics!

  5. Lorraine murphy says:

    This is dissgusting and has to be stopped VOTE NO .VETO H B 352

  6. Patricia Perry says:

    Please stop this madness

  7. Lillian McGlincy says:

    This is disgusting! We have taken over all the wild areas where these animals have lived for so many years and we believe that we are entitled to kill every animal that stands in our way.

  8. Diane Peters says:

    No children or small women have ever been killed by bobcats, which only weigh about 20lbs. Fraidy cat.

  9. Wanda Boston says:

    Leave the bobcats alone. If people would stop intruding on their habitats then maybe they would stay out of yours. LEAVE THEM ALONE AND STOP THE ABUSE

  10. Luz correa says:

    Please, don’t sign the bill and protect all wild life

  11. LADY martina - Claire Scanlon. says:

    No PLEASE no, I do animal rescue DONT take life that is NOT yours to take….one day you will look around and wonder why there is no beauty in the world anymore….Lady Scanlon.

  12. Embrose miskell says:

    This is barbaric!!!!!!!

  13. Diana says:

    It’s a damm disgrace. ..Will never go to that state…

  14. Cheryl Gungor says:

    Man is so cruel to our animals. All animals were created by God and have the right to share this earth and live in peace without the fear, pain and suffering that Man imposes on them daily. Our animals need protection from Man! VETO this horrible Bobcat Trapping Bill now and strike down all cruelty and inhumane treatment of all of our animals on this earth while it still exists, in spite of Man trying to destroy our Earth too.

  15. Les Rout says:

    The reality is that bobcats are shy, elusive, and small creatures. They’re generally a little larger than a good-sized house cat, usually weighing about 20 pounds. Most of their diet consists of rodents, though they do kill rabbits and even fawns. Let us remember, that’s what predators do. And that’s what provides balance in nature.

  16. David Bernazani says:

    How sad and disgusting when politicians speak of a species so wrongly and foolishly– sad because many beautiful cats’ lives depend on what those politicians do, and disgusting because there is no good reason to kill the animals at all except for some back-room dealings with greedy trappers.and hunters.
    Thanks, HSUS, for exposing the truth and fighting this obscene bill, and for naming the parties responsible.

  17. Anne Falkenreck says:


  18. Eleanor Martinez says:

    Please do not allow the trophy hunting, commercial trapping or killing of any wild cats of any type.
    Thank you for your cooperation.
    Eleanor Martinez

  19. Susan says:

    No animal deserves to die by the horrible death of a trap. This is barbaric and should have ended years ago.

  20. helen hogue says:

    NO ON HUNTING AND TRAPPING OF BOBCATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Bridget says:

    VETO HB 352 Bobcats do NOT deserve this barbaric treatment!!!

  22. Carolyn says:

    Every time I called the number given for Ill. Gov. Rauner’s office (312-814-2121), it was busy. Despite making a bunch of attempts, I never succeeded in getting through to anyone nor was I able to leave a message.

  23. Wayne sobey says:


  24. gloria percy says:

    Bobcats deserve to be treated decently as should all wild animals.

  25. j.van rooyen says:

    stop it

  26. Annoula Wylderich says:

    It’s frightening when we see leaders making decisions that impact other lives based upon misinformation or lack of knowledge. And it is crucial that the public be educated about other species so that some of those ignorant comments made by legislators can be countered and addressed.

  27. T Badgley says:

    Please veto the bill.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.