Illinois senators Thursday passed legislation out of committee to ban trapping bobcats and selling their pelts.
Bobcats were removed from the threatened species list in 1999, and the state recently allowed the hunting of bobcats to resume. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources opposes the legislation. The D-N-R's Mike Stevens says allowing hunters to sell the pelts is a better use of bobcats' fur than leaving it on the field or getting thrown away. Stevens says no one will make a lot of money on selling pelts. He says even when the department proactively culls herds of deer, everything possible is put to use.
"We don't just waste the resource after that. We then donate it to the Northeast Food Bank, so utilizing that resource is something the department is supportive of."
But backers of the legislation say they don't believe the state should incentivize killing bobcats for money, and that trapping is inhumane. The D-N-R says there are between 5-to-6-thousand bobcats in the state, mostly in southern and western Illinois.