Illinois Governor Vetoes Bobcat Hunting Bill
On January 11, Illinois governor, Pat Quinn showed his true colors when it comes to conservation and vetoed the bobcat hunting bill. Safari Club International criticizes Governor Pat Quinn for vetoing House Bill 4226, a bill that would have allowed bobcat hunting in Illinois for the first time in 40 years. Governor Quinn’s veto ignores necessary science-based management of bobcats in Illinois. Removing professionals from wildlife management will allow bobcat populations to remain unchecked and as a result other wild game populations will decrease and livestock losses will continue to increase in the state.
HB 4226, which was supported by wildlife professionals at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), would have amended the wildlife code to allow hunters to kill one bobcat in a season that would run November 1st to February 15th. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 91-20 while the vote was closer in the Senate, 30-19.
State Representative Wayne Rosenthal, (R-Morrisonville), sponsored the legislation. Representative Rosenthal introduced the bill after hearing concerns from hunters about bobcats depleting wild game populations and constituents with farms complained that the big cats were killing off their chickens and domestic animals.
Governor Quinn’s decision ignores the recommendation of the IDNR, which supported a hunting season as a way to help in long-term management of the species. Officials estimate populations have rebounded to nearly 5,000 in Illinois since being removed from the threatened species list in 1999.
In his veto statement, Governor Quinn said, “We all have a responsibility to protect and maintain Illinois’ wildlife. Allowing people to hunt bobcats in Illinois violates that responsibility. Bobcats are a valuable part of Illinois’ ecosystem and continue to need protection.”
Governor Quinn’s stance on the outdoors has nothing to do with the science of conservation, but with the politics of it. His veto came on his last day in office. Republican Bruce Rauner will be inaugurated on Monday.