SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A bill that would make legal the hunting of bobcats in Illinois has advanced in the state Legislature.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports that the legislation was approved by a House committee on Tuesday.

Bobcat hunting in Illinois became illegal in 1972 when conservationists were worried about a decline in the big cats' population.

State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, a Republican from Morrisonville who's one of the measure's sponsors, said there are at least 3,000 bobcats living in southern Illinois, with more scattered across the state.

"This just allows (the Department of Natural Resources) and their biologists to manage them like they do any other species within the state," he said. "Bobcats are predators, similar to coyotes. This just gives us a chance to manage (their population) upfront."

The bill would allow hunters with a permit to kill one bobcat a year during a season that runs from Nov. 1 through Feb. 15.

The legislation now heads to the full House.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, www.southernillinoisan.com