Alex Degman -- Illinois Radio Network

Bobcats are no longer endangered, and a newly signed bill aims to curtail what some downstate lawmakers say is a rapidly growing population.

Bobcats were endangered in Illinois from 1977 to 1999, but their numbers have recovered. Samantha Hagio of the Humane Society of the United States is worried a bobcat hunting season will endanger the animals once again.

“Nobody really knows how many bobcats are in Illinois,” Hagio says. “The last thing we want to do is initiate a hunt before we know how many bobcats are in the state, using the same methods that led to their demise in the first place.”

The measure barely passed the house – it got 60 votes, the minimum number required. Bobcat season will run from November 1st to February 15th, hunters will be allowed to kill one animal per season for a fee of no more than $5.