Bobcat season is approaching in Illinois. There is disagreement over how expanded hunting will impact the species long term.
Illinois resumed bobcat hunting just a few years ago. Rachel Torbert is a spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She says IDNR asks hunters to report animals they encounter.
"Surveys that we’re working with have been conducted since the early 1990s and they show a steady increase in bobcat population in Illinois," she said.
But a recent study by Western Illinois University suggests there are fewer bobcats across the state than the estimates coming from IDNR. Jennifer Kuroda of the Illinois Bobcat Foundation explains:
"They estimated a density at 1.4 individuals per 100 square kilometers, where previous Illinois research has shown that there’s 30 individuals per 100 square kilometers within the same state, and that’s drastically different numbers."
Kuroda worries about the consequences of hunting.
"How does that work out when you’re hunting them, and you’ve issued a thousand permits, and all those counties are open for bobcat hunting? Are you going to start impacting that species’ ability to start recolonizing in other areas of the state?" she asked.
Bobcat season begins in Illinois next month.