After a decades-long absence, the State of Illinois prepares for the resurgence of these natural predators into the environment with the introduction of new rules to protect them.
The Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee voted in favor of a bill to add wolves, black bears, and mountain lions to the Illinois Wildlife Code on March 25, 2014. This bill was introduced with help from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Senator Linda Holmes, and several environmental organizations in an effort to protect these native Illinois predators as they return to their historic habitat.
Although none of these animals have yet established populations within our state, they have been growing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and are likely to expand their borders. According to NRDC wildlife attorney Rebecca Riley, “Gray Wolves were almost extinct in the lower 48 states forty years ago, but now thanks to federal protections, almost 4,000 wolves reside in these three states alone.”
Under current Illinois law, wolves, black bears, and mountain lions are completely unprotected, meaning anyone can shoot these animals at any time. If anyone recalls, it was just last fall when a mountain lion from South Dakota ventured within the Illinois border and was shot by state authorities. Once the bill is enacted, citizens will not be able to kill these animals unless they create an immediate threat. The March 25th senate vote is a step in the right direction to protect these natural Illinois predators!
Read more about whats being done to protect wolves, mountain lions, and bears HERE!