Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Illinois bobcat harvest up significantly as season winds down

Springfield — The bobcat harvest in Illinois appears to be significantly higher for the 2017-18 season compared to the 2016-17. As of Feb. 14, the harvest stood at 329 bobcats. The season was set to end Feb. 15. Last year the season harvest total was 141. The total is strikingly close to the set quota of 350.

Several factors may be involved with the increase.

Last year was the first year bobcats could be hunted or trapped since the season closed in 1972. Because of his, there are not many tag holders who had previously trapped or hunted bobcats in Illinois, so there may be a bit of a learning curve. Coincidentally, trapping seasons also lengthened this season, with the entire state open for trapping until Feb.15 – a three- to four-week increase in season length, depending on the part of the state.

And the biggest change from last season to this season was the number of permits issued. Last year saw a very conservative 500 tags issued. The first lottery saw over 6,400 sportsmen apply for permits. This year, DNR allowed 1,000 permits to be issued and only 4,300 or so applied.

With twice the number of tags issued, and a likely increasingly dedicated pool of tag holders, one would expect a sharp increase.

The bobcat harvest number for the 2017-18 season was set last year by the Legislature at a maximum of 350, at which point DNR would close the season. Next year the number rises to 375, after which regulatory control of all aspects of bobcat hunting and trapping returns to the DNR.

DNR will soon have a breakdown on the number of bobcats harvested, how they were harvested (trapping, gun hunting, bow hunting, road salvage, etc.), as well as a breakdown of the counties where the bobcats were harvested.

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