The state seeks to add more predator animals to list of protected species

Mar 26, 2014

Illinois wants to add black bears, gray wolves and cougars to the state's list of protected species. But there is disagreement on how much protection should be given when there is a safety concern. IPR'S Peter Gray explains.

In late November of last year, a family northeast of the Quad Cities called state conservation police to kill a cougar found hiding under a building on their farm.

Democratic State Senator Linda Holmes of Aurora, a former docent at Brookfield Zoo, says she heard an outcry from animal lovers in her area who embrace the rarity of a roaming big cat:

"For many years we didn't have them here in Illinois.  Now we're starting to find that some populations of these animals are coming into Illinois, and they are just being shot, without any recourse whatsoever."

Even if legislation succeeds in getting cougars, black bears and gray wolves listed as protected, they could still be legally killed in the future. The Illinois Farm Bureau, defending landowners and their livestock, successfully lobbied for a change.

The measure now says if one of these predators is "stalking" or "causing a threat” on private land, owners are justified in pulling the trigger on their land, or filing for a nuisance permit so the state can remove the animal for them.