How Many Bobcats Are Wandering Illinois?
After reading about a Georgia woman's horrific encounter with a bobcat, I began to wonder if it could happen in Illinois, too.
The answer, in a word, is yes. It could happen here in Illinois.
First, some background on the story out of Hart County, Georgia, about 110 miles northeast of Atlanta. DeDe Phillips, a 46 year old grandmother, had to resort to some extreme violence to save her own life:
"It caught me slightly on my face, but I got him before he could do much damage there," Phillips explained to OnlineAthens. "I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat. I knew that was the only way I was getting out of this."
As to the possibilities of something like that happening here in Illinois--they're greater now than in years past, thanks to a resurgence of bobcats in our state.
Historically, bobcats occurred throughout Illinois but were most common in forested parts of the state. Habitat changes and unregulated harvest caused their numbers to decline dramatically by the late 1800's. During 1977, bobcats were placed on Illinois’ first official list of threatened species. Bobcats responded well to protection and habitat restoration. During the 1990's, a study conducted by the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University confirmed reports of bobcats in all but three counties. At that time, bobcats were common in southern Illinois and expanding northward. Bobcats were removed from the list of state threatened species in 1999.
Illinois'; bobcat population continues to grow. Statewide, the number of bobcats sighted by archery deer hunters increased more than ten-fold from 1992 to 2012. This trend is supported by intensive studies in the southern third of the state, where the number of bobcats increased from 2,200 in 2000 to 3,200 by 2009. Today, it is estimated that as many as 5,000 bobcats occur in the state.
For those who think that bobcats are adorable, and would make a wonderful house-pet, consider this: