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Rauner Signs Law Authorizing Hunting Of Bobcats

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Not so long ago, prior to 1999, Illinois considered bobcats a threatened species. Come winter, hunters will be able to harvest the cats.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is an avid hunter -- of birds. No word on if that hobby contributed to his decision to sign a new law, authorizing bobcat hunting.

His office sent word of his signature without comment.

But the Dept. of Natural Resources and others say Illinois' bobcat population has rebounded.

"I spent a lot of time out in the woods," Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, said once during a Senate debate. "I hunt. My district is over in western Illinois, which is where the bobcat population has exploded. I used to never see a bobcat. Now, it is uncommon to go to the woods and not see bobcats. And not one, or two. But three or four or five or six of 'em."

The bobcat hunting bill barely made it out of the legislature; environmental groups and the humane society fought hard against it; they say the law will land bobcats right back on the threatened species list.

Hunters and trappers will be limited to killing one bobcat a season; rules still need to be developed.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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