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Heartland Outdoors

New Illinois Hunting and Trapping Season for Bobcats a Success

Wed, February 15, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Hunters and trappers took a preliminary total of 141 bobcats during the 2016-17 Illinois Bobcat Hunting and Trapping Season.

“We are very pleased with the response to Illinois’ new hunting and trapping season for bobcats,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Wayne Rosenthal.  “The recovery of the bobcat is a conservation success story in Illinois. We were pleased with the response of hunters and trappers that applied for permits, and we will continue to evaluate the program.” 

More than 6,400 people applied for 500 permits to take bobcats.  Those awarded a permit in the lottery were required to register their harvest within 48 hours and purchase a Bobcat Pelt Temporary Permit.  They reported taking 69 bobcats by hunting, 49 by trapping, 12 by archery, and salvaging 11 from roads.  Bobcats were harvested in 44 counties in the open zone, which included western and southern parts of the state.  Top counties were Pike (11), Jackson (10), Jefferson (7), Carroll (6), and Randolph (6).

The 2016-17 season for hunting bobcats with bow or gun was conducted November 10, 2016 through January 31, 2017 (closed during Firearm Deer Season), while permitted trappers were able to take bobcats Nov. 5, 2016 through Jan. 20, 2017 in the northern zone and Nov. 10, 2016 through Jan. 25, 2017 in the southern zone.

The table below includes preliminary bobcat harvest totals by county and method of take for the 2016-17 season.  PDF of the table is at the link below.



Nice to see those comments coming directly from the Director. I think if fur prices overall had been a little better this year, then maybe we would have seen a little large take, but some trappers just hung their traps up this season. I know of a few that just trapped for a short time, and then spent more time pursuing other opportunities this past season. Overall nice to hear, and I hope the efforts by sportsmen/women, and the DNR continue to help move this species forward for many years to come.

I want my grandkids to have the opportunity to experience bobcats in Illinois, and if things continue like they have in regards to bobcats, then I think the future looks good all outdoor enthusiast to have an opportunity to experience bobcats.

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 15

Interesting they include 11 road kills aprox 8 percent of the total harvest.
Not sure on how the whole Bobcat harvest works, but did you need to burn a permit on those road kills.  Maybe next year they can include road kills to get the deer harvest numbers up.

Posted by BIGPOND on February 16

Road kill on kittens is very hard, and lots of times over looked. I have seen several young kittens hit, and most people just assume they are young house cat kittens. I hope that most of those bobcats harvested this season were older tom’s, that will help with the overall kitten survival.  Like I said I think if overall trapping activity had been greater this season, then I think you would have seen a larger harvest. South of I-64 its hard to keep out of the traps.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 16

28% success rate with for all practical purposes, rookie trappers and hunters. Higher than the Illinois deer hunter success rate, with experienced hunters. Must be under different management.

Posted by The Colonel on February 16

Colonel, exactly what I was thinking.  However, we have areas with tons of bobcats and people can’t get permits.  And then some people (lawmakers) want to reduce the harvest.  Then you have the deer herd that looks pathetic in some areas, and all politicians want to do is sell more permits and expand seasons.  There may have been enough “scientific data” to get a bobcat season established, but it’s clear that the season’s not being managed from a biological standpoint, or we’d have better tools to get permits in the hands where they’re needed… and harvest goals more in line with areas with high bobcat populations.  To me, the bobcat season was more of a token/novelty than anything.

Posted by Kevin C on February 16

“The recovery of the bobcat is a success story in Illinois.” Yes that is true…the bobcats are back. Did the DNR actually plan the comeback? Was the comeback due to the management of IDNR or did it….just happen? Hmmmmmmm. Maybe that is a sign. Don’t manage, that means no harvest etc etc and just maybe the deer heard will do the same?!?!? Soon mountain lions will come to a population deemed as harvestable, again we will hear the same story, the recovery of the mountain lion was a success story in Illinois, but again IDNR will take credit but did they actual take part in the recovery or did Mother Nature find a way?


Posted by CyClones on February 16

Kevin, I will be more than glad to send you copies of the six different studies that have been conducted upon bobcats in Illinois, and that includes a program that attached radio collars to them via grad students at SIU Carbondale that tracked their movements. These would be the same six studies I forwarded to Marc Miller when he was director, and the same ones I offered to Governor Quinn’s office at the very same time. A little more than a Novelty I think Kevin !!

Trappers have made it a focal point to see the bobcats were studied, and continually monitored. We had our own dedicated furbearer biologist until uncle Rod took over in Springfield, and we had several years of monitoring bobcats already under our belt up to that point, then some. Trappers made reports of catches with several CPO’s involved in helping release these captures in order to bring an element of legitimacy into the encounters trappers had with bobcats. We wanted some else to see what we were dealing with, and to prove our point that we did have cats in certain areas many thought none existed. No need for any type of token needed upon the trappers part. The facts from trappers encounters, and the digital trail cams proved that the bobcat was back within Illinois, and at level far better than we thought before. We have done our due diligence when it come to Bobcats.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 16

Colonel, look at the average age of a trapper in Illinois, then tell me you see a lot of rookie’s. If you do please look again, because I think you sir are mistaken. We have in Illinois some of the finest trappers within the whole United States of America, and if compelled to do so are capable of butting up numbers on just about any species of furbearer legal to harvest.

Our younger generation of trappers are more well equipped, and have a better understanding of their tools, and furbearer habits than ever before thanks to trappers education that is now in place for everyone.

The truth is the Trapper is the whole package people, and your true wildlife conservationist on a whole other level, far beyond the normal outdoorsmen/women, with trappers applying their craft upon many levels.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 16

RTT, wasn’t referring to it that way at all… like I said, I’m sure there was plenty of scientific data to support adding the season.  But I don’t feel the implementation of the season has much science in it… and I think what little we ended up getting, was a token.  Does the science say that we should only kill 141 bobcats on 500 permits?  I heard of people getting a permit that had deer hunted for 20 years and never seen a bobcat in their life… but they applied and got a permit.  Then they took to social media to ask people for a place to hunt… since they drew a permit.  If IDNR was implementing the season and harvest limits based on science, wouldn’t they have put more thought into how to get permits where they are needed… like in the areas pointed out in the studies????  Kind of like deer hunting… if all the overpopulated deer are in one county (for example), you don’t let people get all the permits clear across the state if you’re targeting the population in that area.

Posted by Kevin C on February 17

They are “rookies” because they likely haven’t ever purposely tried to trap a bobcat.  Not because they have never trapped.

And I don’t think the harvest would have been any higher if trappers would have been “in the mood”.  I would be willing to bet that there wasn’t a single trapper who was lucky enough to get a permit, that didn’t at least TRY to catch his cat.  It doesn’t matter what kind of mood the other thousands of trappers were in.  Because they didn’t get a permit anyway.

Posted by bw on February 17

Out of the 500 permits that were issued, has anyone checked to see how many of those people that got a permit actually have a hunting/trapping license?  If only half of them are actually hunters/trappers, the success rate goes way up.

Posted by trev33 on February 17

We’ve never had a bobcat on our cameras where we hunt but our neighbor had 3 different cats on camera last year,  4 of us applied for permits but none of us got one.  Probably a good thing because none of us saw one but for the $5 it costs to apply its worth it for all of us to try and get a tag just in case we do get one.  Funny because in Central Illinois where we hunt we’ve never had one on camera but in southern Illinois where I hunted a few years back I hung 3 cameras for 2 days and got 5 different cats on camera.  They are over run down there.

Posted by Bigb on February 17

Kevin, sorry if I took it all wrong. The number of 500 permits with a goal of 300 actual takes had been part of the discussion from the very start several years prior to any legislation going forward. I personally feel if trapping had been implemented as the only means of take, then we would have more than likely seen that take number closer to 300. The Trappers of this state just felt that would be the wrong approach towards our fellow sportsmen/women of this state, and thought it best to give the opportunity to those that hunt, run hounds, and trap, and not just a single group. The long term goal was to bring in other groups into the fold of helping manage this species. That may not have been the smartest approach in regards to trappers getting a fair shake when it came to permits, but it was the right move in regards to sharing our resource, and doing what was right for bobcats. I feel after looking at the numbers that we will now have a more real idea of how the bobcat harvest will shape up with all parties involved, and yes I feel that is the correct approach for the long term if we are going to continue to share the resource.

BW, first and foremost I have no idea how many actual trappers received permits, and I don’t know how many trappers that caught cats that had to be released due to not having a permit, that would be an interesting number to keep track of in regards to actual encounters. How many were treed by hounds men that had no permit for harvest ?? Another good question. We need to ask these questions, and get answers so to have good data down the road to manage the species correctly.

BW,I think I follow your way of thinking, like I said above we felt we had to share the resource, and at least this way we have an idea of how things will shake out with everyone involved. Long term I still feel its best. We might harvest fewer bobcats this way to start, but at least everyone will be a part of the process of managing this resource we have.



Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 18

My point was how many of the peta people ended up getting a permit?  I know for a fact there were at least 2 people around my area that are against hunting that applied for a permit and got one.

Posted by trev33 on February 18

Trev33, simple fix with that problem , just make it a requirement that those applying for a permit have either trapper education , or hunter education under their belt, along with a current hunting or trapping license.  I don’t think these types would be that devoted to setting in on a 10-8 hour class, and purchasing a license to boot. Stupid is as stupid does, and I don’t think that will ever change. I guess there is a certain element that does the same thing with the deer permits.

I would also suggest that those that seek to get permits, and not actually have Hunting/Trapping license, then I could see that as an act to directly effect the management process of our wildlife, and thus an attempt at hunter harassment at the least via permit manipulation.

Permit manipulation should be made an offense under the wildlife code that effects the harvest of any species that is allotted a special permit as requirement for harvest under the wildlife code. Stops that BS.


Posted by Ringtailtrapper on February 19

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