Sportsmen Funded Wildlife Restoration Programs Increase Bob Cat Numbers
By Toby Trigger

Posted: June 7, 2015

Will Illinois be the next victory for sportsmen?

Sometimes it seems like sportsmen opportunity is deceasing everywhere as access closes and litiation takes priority over wildlife management. But there are times when sportsmen win.

Montana sportsmen are blessed with great access and even as game populations fluctuate, we’ve got it pretty good.  Keeping an eye on what’s happening in other states sportsmen’s issues can prepare us for dealing with our own issues in our own state, where ever that may be.

Nick Pinizzotto, President of the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance is hopeful that the success story of sportsmen contribution to improving wildlife and habitat won’t be re-written by anti-hunters in Illinois.

Pinizzotto writes:

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has an important decision to make – one that will determine whether scientific management of wildlife and the efforts of sportsmen are appreciated under his administration.

All that is standing between Illinois sportsmen and a bobcat season is the Governor’s signature of HB 352.

And if anyone deserves a bobcat season, it’s Illinois’ hunters and trappers, who haven’t been able to legally pursue the species since 1972.

Why? Because they are the reason bobcat populations are booming across the state today.

Just like many other conservation efforts, hunters and trappers pay for the bulk of reintroduction efforts and habitat improvements through license fees, stamps and special taxes. In fact, Southern Illinois University conducted an 8-year research project on the state’s bobcat population with funding from the Pittman-Robertson Act, which is funded through an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, bows and other archery equipment.

“This is just another example of the effectiveness of these restoration programs,” said USSA’s VP of Government Affairs, Evan Heusinkveld. “Wildlife in this country is thriving today because of monies contributed to wildlife programs through hunting licenses, tags, permits and excise taxes. Sportsmen and women in Illinois should call Governor Rauner today and urge him to quickly sign this success story into law!”

In addition to financial contributions, hunters and trappers committed thousands of man hours to the bobcat study in Illinois. Experienced trappers assisted biologists in live-trapping bobcats and recording data, while some 2,000 hunters recorded their time spent in the woods and the various types of wildlife, including bobcats, they spotted. All this transfers into reliable data that state’s wildlife biologists then use in determining population health and size.

The bobcat population in the state is currently estimated at around 5,000 cats, with confirmed sightings in 99 of the 102 counties in Illinois and a population growth rate of 4 to 9 percent per year.

Thanks to collaboration between the state’s wildlife biologists, and hunters and trappers, bobcat populations have rebounded and are growing at a significant rate. Sportsmen should be proud of their collective efforts and take pride in calling the Governor’s office to voice their desire to once again play an active role in the scientific management of the species.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s contact information can be found at the USSA Legislative Action Center:

Nick Pinnizotto’s blog post was originally posted on June 5th at: