Illinois Bobcat Population on the Rise, State Warns Motorists

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

With the bobcat population reportedly on the rise, Illinois state officials are now warning motorists to be on the look out for the large cats on the road.

WROK reports that a warning about the bobcat population comes just days after an Illinois mountain lion was struck and killed by a vehicle in Dekalb County.  It was noted that 5,000 of the large cats are estimated to be roaming around 99 out of the 102 counties in the state. 

Illinois Bobcat Foundation reports that the animals are considered important apex predators. They play an ecological role in controlling rodents and other prey populations. Predators of the big cat include owls, eagles, coyotes, and foxes. It was noted that the animal was once protected in 1972, after becoming listed as a threatened species. In 1999, the designation was removed. Hunting/trapping legislation allowed the first season in more than 40 years in 2016. 

WROK further reveals that in the last three years there have been multiple bobcat sightings throughout the Chicago suburbs and Southern Wisconsin areas. Although they are big, bobcats notably poss little risk to humans. This is due to the animal’s natural response to flee from humans. However, small dogs or cats may be at risk, though.

The Illinois Bobcat Foundation then added, “If you come across a bobcat in your yard or elsewhere, give it space. Yelling and making noise will generally chase it away. Problems with poultry that cannot be resolved by improving fencing or implementing recommendations from a biologist could require a nuisance animal permit.”

Bobcat Kitten Was Previously Hit By a Car in Illinois 

In late November 2015, a young bobcat was hit by a vehicle along Arlington Road in Bloomington. The animal was taken to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the  University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois to have surgery done on her pelvis. It was reported that the cat was crossing the road along with her mother and sibling when she was hit. The other two cats were not injured. 

At the time, Amanda Wrigley, Vice President of the WildCare Inc. board and a volunteer at the wildlife rehabilitation center in Bloomington, spoke to Times-Mail about the bobcat’s recovery. “She’s doing good. So, far, she’s stable. 

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine also reported on the bobcat’s recovery on its website. The animal would be hospitalized during the upcoming weeks where her progress and healing were closely monitored. 

In 2021, the University of Illinois Wildlife Clinic cared for a 30-pound male bobcat. It was suspected of being hit by a car. IDNR Conservation Officer brought the animal to the clinic to get looked at. Unfortunately, the injuries sustained in the incident left the animal’s survival to be unlikely. The clinic ended up having to put the animal down.