The following is a guest blog by NRDC wildlife attorney, Rebecca Riley:
Mountain lions, gray wolves, and black bears are now safe to roam in Illinois, thanks to the leadership of Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois legislature. This last weekend, Governor Quinn signed the Protection of Wildlife Bill, which ensures that these carnivores will no longer be killed in our state without good cause.
According to researchers at Southern Illinois University, seven gray wolves, four mountain lions, and two black bears have been spotted in Illinois since 2000. And just a few months ago, there were reports of a third black bear near Rockford.
Until now, these animals could be shot on sight, no questions asked. And that is exactly what happened when mountain lions wandered into the state. Now, thanks to the new law, hunting and shooting mountain lions, gray wolves, and black bears is illegal, except in cases where the animals threaten livestock or public safety.
We all owe a special thanks to Governor Quinn, Chief Sponsors Senator Linda Holmes and Representative Kelly Cassidy as well as all the members of the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Farm Bureau, and the many environmental and conservation groups that worked together to protect wildlife in the great State of Illinois. This law is a victory for wildlife and wild lands in the Prairie State. A victory that we hope spreads across the region.