040714 js 0481RSPRINGFIELD – Bears, wolves and mountain lions could have added protections in Illinois after a measure sponsored by State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) passed the Senate today.

The legislation would add American black bears, gray wolves and mountain lions to the Illinois Wildlife Code.  These animals were native predators, but have been absent for decades in Illinois.

“It is increasingly important that we put protections in place for bears, wolves and mountain lions as they return to their natural habitats in Illinois,” Holmes said.  “This legislation ensures that indigenous species’ populations can grow to sustainable levels.  It includes safeguards for farmers who could be affected by their return.”

Currently, these animals could be hunted at will in Illinois.  Holmes’ proposal allows Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to regulate their population growth. Almost every other mammal, including bobcats and coyotes are already regulated under the wildlife code.

According to the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, since 2000, at least seven gray wolves, four mountain lions and two black bears have been spotted in Illinois.  

In the rare circumstance that one of these animals causes a threat to landowners’ property, domestic animals or livestock, there is a provision that allows them to take action if it is deemed an imminent threat. Landowners also have the option to apply for a nuisance permit from DNR if a black bear, wolf or mountain lion poses a threat that is not imminent.

The measure passed the Senate with a vote of 47-0 and now moves to the House for further consideration.

Read more below:

Illinois Senate approves adding animals to protected list (WREX Rockford, IL)