In my opinion, too many poachers taking bobcats illegally in Illinois

Shane MalawyThe Sept. 20  issue of the Illinois Outdoor News printed a “Letter to the Editor” from Herman “Bud” Jansen from Clinton County. In his letter, Jansen inquires about a possible futuristic bobcat trapping season in Illinois. In particular, Jansen mentions Clinton, Jackson, Jefferson and Perry counties as areas with what he believes to have large populations of bobcats and all of which are located along, and just North and South of Interstate 64. In the same issue, Les Winkeler has an excellent piece on the expanding population of bobcats south of Interstate 64 in southern Illinois.

It seems that even though the bobcat hunting or trapping discussion is flowing, it may be flowing in opposite directions. Jansen tends to suggest that the bobcat population is harmful to the deer population. Jansen writes: “I believe that bobcats could definitely prey on fawns and smaller deer.”  On the other hand, Les Winkeler and DNR wildlife biologist Bob Bluett seem to be excited for the return of the cat. Bluett is quoted as saying “They (bobcats) really have a leg up in the forested areas” and goes on to say “Sometimes animals just get their game on and start taking off.” Winkeler also reports that “rabbits and squirrels are the primary diet of bobcats.”

Bluett reports that the estimated bobcat population south of Interstate 64 is 3,000 and is growing at an estimated 4 to 9 percent per year and explains that he “wouldn’t expect them to get a whole lot more abundant than they are.” Bluett goes on to explain that bobcats are territorial and there are “limits to how many you can fit into a tissue box”.

The poaching of bobcats is the real problem in Illinois. Believe it or not, there are some lowlife outdoorsmen that are poaching bobcats. Admit it, we all know of or heard the story of someone who has pulled the trigger on a bobcat. As a matter of fact, a third party conversation was recently overheard that told the story of one pathetic southern Illinois outdoorsman that claimed 13 bobcat kills last winter during several coyote hunting trips. Although this claim cannot be verified it is not surprising. As long as the poaching continues, responsible outdoorsmen are not likely to see a bobcat hunting or trapping season anytime soon. The population will stalemate because of the poaching. Without increasing numbers, a season cannot be levied. Sorry Mr. Bluett but the answer is much deeper than any tissue box. So, to answer ansen’s question “What would it take for a bobcat trapping season in Illinois?” The simple cold, hard, truthful answer to Mr. Jansen’s question is: Stop bobcat poaching. Because of bobcat poaching, responsible outdoorsmen are unlikely to see a bobcat hunting or trapping season in the near future.   

In all reality, it is lack of education that keeps bobcat poaching a persistent problem. The uneducated outdoorsman believes that the bobcat causes harm to deer and upland game populations and thus feels the need to remove the bobcat from the ecological circle. In reality, the bobcat, just like any other wild predator only takes what it needs to survive and actually helps control the populations of other species and will remove the weakest or sick of the species first when possible. Humans and feral cats are the worst enemies that wildlife will face. Humans are destroying habitat at an alarming rate and feral cats will kill just for the sake of killing with no intentions of using their kill as food.

While I support Jansen’s idea of an Illinois trapping season for bobcats, I think it is unfair to entertain the idea as long as unethical outdoorsmen remain uneducated and continue to illegally remove the species that was virtually eradicated from Illinois in the late 1960s and early 70s because of the same circumstance. We must not let history repeat itself. As honest, respectful outdoorsmen we must take responsibility for our actions and educate ourselves as to the outdoors and the species we love and cherish. We must also do our part and attempt to eliminate poaching so that the dishonest, irresponsible, foolish lowlifes do not ruin our outdoors.

It is the responsibility of ethical outdoorsmen to report poaching in order to protect our privileges. Please report poachers to 1-877-236-7529 and do your part in protecting and preserving our valuable natural resources. 

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, IllBlogs, Illinois – Shane Malawy, Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *