Target: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
Goal: Don’t allow bobcat hunting in Illinois
It has been illegal to hunt bobcats in Illinois for over forty years. Now that bobcat populations have rebounded, lawmakers have passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, will allow the animals to be hunted once again. Though populations are much better than they were years ago, hunting these animals can easily drive numbers right back down to threatened levels. We need to treat formerly protected species as if they are still in danger—because bobcats were commonly hunted before the ban, there is a great potential for hunting to destabilize the established bobcat population. Rather than jumping straight from protection to hunting, we need to be sure that the population is sustainable as it is.
Bobcats are an important part of the natural world. They prey primarily on small herbivores like rats and rabbits, both of which have rapid reproduction rates and can wreak havoc on vegetation. Bobcats very rarely approach humans, and prefer small mammals like rabbits and hares to livestock like chickens. They are generally considered to be non-threatening, but their role as predators is vital to an ecosystem. Bobcats are not hunted for meat and their main draw for hunters is their fur—after so many years of protection in Illinois, allowing hunters to exploit them for pelts and taxidermy is cruel.
Though populations are on the rise, it is far too easy for Illinois bobcats to slip away again. Bobcats are not a major threat to human life and their main appeal as hunting targets is that people want their pelts. Ask Governor Quinn not to sign a bill legalizing bobcat hunting, and to show his support for these amazing and important animals.
Dear Governor Quinn,
After forty years of protection from hunting, bobcats are once again under threat. Though the protection efforts have helped raise the bobcat population to reasonable levels, this does not mean that they can withstand hunting. Species that have needed protection in the past—particularly species which, like the bobcat, have been hunted by humans—continue to need our help after their populations are restored to prevent overhunting and low population from happening again.
Bobcats are a crucial part of the ecosystem, as they keep rabbit, hare, and rat populations in check. They eat primarily small animals whose populations can easily grow to unmanageable, destructive levels without a large predator to keep the reproduction rate down. Bobcats are rarely dangerous and are hunted primarily for sport. Allowing hunting to resume just because their population has reached a certain level could easily cause another serious dip in the number of wild bobcats in Illinois.
Bobcats are important parts of the ecosystem and deserve protection. Lawmakers have already passed a bill that will allow bobcat hunting for the first time in forty years. Please don’t sign this bill; while bobcat populations have increased, a population increase is very different from overpopulation. Hunting could easily lead to another decline in population, undoing the effects of forty years of protection. Please help save these important, beautiful animals by refusing to sign the bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kramer Gary via Wikimedia Commons