Trophy hunters have slaughtered nearly 1,400 bobcats in Illinois since 2015. A new bill would stop the carnage.

By on March 3, 2021 with 20 Comments

Since Illinois reopened its bobcat hunts in 2015, after a 40-year hiatus, trophy hunters and trappers have killed nearly 1,400 bobcats using some of the cruelest methods imaginable, like steel-jawed leghold traps. These devices are so painful that the animals sometimes gnaw through their own limbs to escape. If they aren’t dead after hours of suffering, the trapper often finishes the job by strangling, clubbing or drowning the animals.

Now, a new bill seeks to end such cruelty forever by prohibiting the trophy hunting and trapping of bobcats in the state.

We are proud to stand among a strong coalition of environmental and animal protection groups supporting House Bill 1827, introduced by Rep. Daniel Didech. This is a commonsense bill that seeks to end unnecessary suffering for these gorgeous native carnivores, and it is one most Illinois residents would support.

Bobcats are one of the only species hunted purely for sport in Illinois. Nobody kills them to put food on the table and they’re typically killed by trophy hunters for a thrill or by trappers who sell their pelts to overseas fur markets.

In Illinois, these small animals have a long history of being persecuted. In 1977, after being nearly wiped out in the state due to overhunting and trapping, they were listed as a threatened species, which ended the trophy hunting and trapping. They had only begun to make a slow and modest return when the state reopened hunting in 2015. And the killing has only gotten worse over the years. During the 2020-21 season, trophy hunters and trappers killed more bobcats than in any previous season – a total of 361 bobcats, including 143 by trapping. This was more than twice the number killed during the first season in 2016-17.

Illinois’s treatment of its bobcats is not wildlife management; it is a handout to trophy hunters and trappers. Bobcats regulate their own populations based on available prey and they do not need to be hunted to keep their numbers in check. Bobcats are also shy and elusive and do not pose a threat to humans. Even when they live semi-close to humans they rarely come into conflict with them. In fact, spotting a bobcat in the wild is an incredibly rare event and one that is to be treasured.

Lawmakers eager to open season on bobcats have held out ridiculous claims and resorted to some of the most dastardly fear-mongering. In 2015, one lawmaker pushing the hunt made the absurd claim that he saw a bobcat walking across his yard and he thought he was “looking at a saber-tooth tiger.” This lawmaker clearly needed a new pair of eyeglasses, as bobcats, who weigh between 15 and 35 pounds, are just slightly heavier than an average housecat. And most Illinois residents did not agree with him even at that time about killing bobcats. A poll held that same year showed that a whopping 78% of Illinois voters opposed the use of steel-jawed leghold traps to kill bobcats and 66% opposed all hunting and trapping of bobcats.

We are grateful to Rep. Didech for paying attention to what Illinois residents want, and for working to end the unnecessary persecution of bobcats. Were Illinois to pass this bill into law, the state would be in good company. In 2019, California passed a moratorium on bobcat hunting, and state agencies in New Hampshire, Indiana and Ohio have all rejected attempts to open a bobcat season in recent years. However, bobcats continue to be hunted for their fur or for trophies in 39 states.

If you live in Illinois, please let your state lawmakers know that you want to see bobcats protected in the state and urge them to vote “yes” on HB 1827. These beautiful wild animals give back generously to the ecosystems they call home, and their presence is vital for the health of Illinois’s wild lands and their other inhabitants. They do not deserve to be slaughtered for a pelt or for fun.

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

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20 Comments

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya no podemos permitir más injusticia más violencia cómo puede ser un trofeo un ser vivo un animalito ya no más injusticia tenemos que respetar la vida ajena

  2. Lynda Nauseda says:

    No no no a million times NO

  3. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Tun Sie bitte alles um das Gemetzel zu stoppen!!!!

  4. Adriana Flores says:

    Stop

  5. Ellen Perkins says:

    All trapping of any animals has to be stopped. It’s a horrific death and other innocent animals often get caught and die.

  6. Leslie says:

    Please protect these beautiful wild Bobcats and stop the torture!!! No animal deserves this barbaric treatment!!!!

  7. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    Nenhum animal deveria ser visto como troféu! São seres vivos, inteligentes, que sentem e têm uma vida familiar muito mais estruturada que muito seres humanos. Não temos o direito de tirar-lhes a vida!

  8. Monique Williams says:

    Stop the killing of bobcats and other wildlife

  9. Lisa berg says:

    This evil slaughter of innocent animals must end and be punishable by law

  10. Linda Leas says:

    I trust HSUS has a presence in Illinois and all members have been alerted to HB 182? Grassroots organizing is so important. I do not feel there has been enough, or perhaps any, grassroots organizing in my state, Ohio. There is no local, active group in my city. I headed one for at least 20 years, but one gets tired, and looks for new activists and advocates down the road.

  11. Patty Weyhrich says:

    Thank you HSUS for being an advocate for bobcats, as well as all animals. Bobcats, instead of being hunted, deserve to be admired as animals beautifully adapted to the natural environment. Trapping and hunting an animal that is already challenged by a habitat that is increasingly lost to development, cars and human predators, and having to provide food for for their babies is without compassion. I can not fathom how someone could cause so much suffering on a beautiful animal. Bobcats are not ours to take and they deserve to live a natural life.

  12. Tim says:

    People will be sorry when we are the only living species on earth We kill animals for greed And vanity we don’t need animal skins to live and we don’t need animal heads hanging over our fireplaces Why can’t we enjoy them alive We are the most destructive spices on earth I for one would not want to live in a world without animal

  13. Anthony Doni says:

    I find very difficult to understand what “trophy Hunting” stand for…..
    shame on You people!!
    Anthony

  14. Emily Phillips says:

    Stop hunting and trapping Bobcats. They r beautiful and useful animals. They will help keep the mice population in control.

  15. M Leybra says:

    When was HB1827 introduced, when will it be voted on & is it making any headway? Surely every hunter & trapper has contacted their Illinois lawmaker already, what do you know about where the bill stands & if has any supporting lawmakers?

    • Blog Editor says:

      HB 1827 was introduced in mid February. In addition to the bill’s main sponsor, there are also 10 co-sponsors, so we know there is support for it, and we also know that the majority of Illinoisans don’t want to see bobcats hunted and trapped. Unfortunately, despite this, the bill still hasn’t moved yet. If you live in Illinois, please let your state lawmakers know that you support this bill and want to see an end to hunting and trapping of bobcats in the state.

  16. j montgomery says:

    This cruelty to animals has to stop the wildlife is crucial to the wellbeing of the planet and the continuation of life. Humans have to stop the disgusting way they treat other species and the people who pass laws allowing this abhorrent practice of trophy hunting to continue should be removed from office.

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