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'Cougar Bill' Has Clawed Its Way Through The General Assembly

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 1, 2014 4:00PM

Yawning Puma [Tambako The Jaguar]

We’ve been watching Illinois’ “cougar bill” claw its way through the General Assembly with interest this session.

Sure, there are other pressing issues facing this state beyond the slow return of some native critters with teeth.

But the way multiple mountain lions met messy ends when straying into Illinois’ borders has been disturbing and needed a fix.

Those situations may be different after the bill passed late on the final day of session, amending the state’s wildlife code to include wolves, bears and pumas (or cougars, or mountain lions…whatever you want to call them since they all refer to puma concolor).

If signed by the Governor, it ends a policy that essentially allowed the animals to be shot on sight, with no questions asked. Illinoisans would retain the right to protect themselves in the unlikely event that conflicts with these species arise.

It is hoped that the added protections will keep the door open to these animals someday reclaiming a vestige of their range in the Land of Lincoln—something that seems unlikely today, but as mountain lion populations grow in the middle of the country, could eventually happen.

In the meantime, individual cougars are still occasionally visiting our fair state. If the Governor signs this bill, the big cats are less likely to be shot for making the trip.