Some Illinois residents are trying to sabotage the state’s lottery for obtaining a bobcat hunting permit.
Beginning Nov. 10, those who won a permit can hunt bobcats in Illinois for the first time in 40 years, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The change comes after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill last year that will allow hunters and trappers to kill one bobcat per hunting season.
The department will accept hunting applications, which can be filed online for $5, through Sept. 30. IDNR spokesman Tim Schweitzer said the department has received more than 4,400 applications and will issue 500 permits to the winners of a lottery.
Some Illinois residents who oppose bobcat hunting have entered the lottery in hopes of winning one of the coveted permits, which would not be used.
“I don’t feel that badly about doing it because I feel strongly that these animals need to be conserved at some level,” said Rockford resident Jennifer Kuroda, who started the Facebook group Illinois Bobcat Conservation.
Kuroda said she used Facebook to encourage others to enter the lottery for a permit that won't be used. So far, 11 of her friends have applied, she said.
“Anyone who submits an application for a bobcat permit and pays the required fee will be in the lottery,” Schweitzer said. “And if they choose not to use their permit, that would be certainly up to them.”
Bobcats were on the state's threatened species list from the mid-1970s until 1999, but Schweitzer said there now about 5,000 throughout Illinois.
He described the cats' recovery as a “really good conservation story.”
Kuroda said she is not confident in the department’s estimate of the bobcat population. She added that she doesn’t see a need for population control on the traditionally shy and elusive cats.
“We consult with hunters, we consult with land owners, we consult with experts in scientific research on wildlife,” Schweitzer said. “This is a very well-thought-out season.”
The Illinois bobcat hunting season will last through Jan. 31. The trapping season will last from Nov. 5 through Jan. 25, with some variations depending on region, according to the department.
Those who hunt bobcats outside of the designated hunting season can be charged.
Claire Donnelly is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at @_clairetweets.