Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

‘Ricochet Rabbit?’ Illinois cottontails may be making comeback

 

Something interesting happened along the way to rabbit hunting’s
dreaded yet expected demise. The numbers reversed.

After five straight years of declines in hunter participation
and harvests, the 2009-10 rabbit season produced rises in both
categories. According to a report by Mike Wefer, recently named
DNR’s new grasslands program manager, 44,312 hunters chased rabbits
last year, a 10 percent jump from 2008-09. Those hunters harvested
189,254 rabbits, a nearly 23 percent increase over the previous
year.

It’s all just numbers, of course, but as rabbit hunters prepare
for the early November season, positive news is welcome by everyone
involved.

“We’re not where we want to be, but we do think there are
encouraging signs after years of decline, almost all due to habitat
loss,” said Wefer, who replaced the retired John Cole. “This year
rabbits are the bright spot.”

Wefer noted that the best available indicator of the cottontail
population is the summer road-kill index. The southern Illinois
index decreased only slightly (1.6 percent) and the northern
Illinois rabbit index continued its upward trend, increasing 15
percent over 2009.

The statewide index was up 5.9 percent. 

For more of the story – including information on quail and
pheasants in the state – see the Oct. 15 issue of Illinois Outdoor
News.

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