American black bears, mountain lions and gray wolves to be protected
Legislation Takes Effect Jan. 1; IDNR
to develop management plan
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[August 30, 2014]
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The gray wolf,
American black bear and mountain lion (cougar) will come under the
protection of the Illinois Wildlife Code on Jan. 1, Illinois
Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller announced
Monday. Senate Bill 3049, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, gives the IDNR
the authority to manage these species for the protection of both
wildlife and public safety. All three species were present when
settlers arrived in Illinois, but were all but gone from the state
by the mid-1800s. Due to improved legal protections and habitat
restoration, these species are returning to some of their former
range in the eastern United States.
“Wolves, mountain lions and black bears have been absent from
Illinois for more than 150 years. As the populations of these
animals continue to grow, we expect to see occasional
individuals dispersing from their current ranges into Illinois,”
said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “I want to thank Governor Quinn
and bill sponsors Sen. Linda Holmes and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for
their leadership. This law gives the Department the ability to
create long-term management goals and to draft response
protocols on managing human-wildlife conflicts with these three
SB 3049 allows landowners to take a black bear or mountain lion
if there is an imminent threat to lives and property. The law
also allows landowners to apply for a nuisance permit to remove
an animal that is not an immediate threat. The gray wolf already
receives legal protection in Illinois from both the U.S. and
Illinois Endangered Species Acts. In these instances, endangered
species law will be followed. Due to its federal protection,
rules for taking a gray wolf south of Interstate 80 are more
stringent. South of Interstate 80, gray wolves may not be taken
unless they present an imminent threat to people. Any other
taking requires state and federal permits.
The gray wolf already receives legal protection in Illinois from
both the U.S. and Illinois Endangered Species Acts. In these
instances, endangered species law will be followed.
Common questions about SB3049:
Is Illinois encouraging the return of large predators?
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is not actively
working to restore gray wolves, American black bears or mountain
lions to Illinois. However, IDNR recognizes that occasional
individual animals are likely to make their way here. A
month-long visit to northern Illinois by a black bear in June
demonstrated the benefits of cooperation among state and local
government entities in monitoring the bear, but allowing it
remain a wild animal. The passage of SB3049 is a first necessary
step that allows the Department to develop formal rules and
protocols to manage these species.
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What will IDNR do to manage wolves, bears and mountain lions?
Right now, IDNR biologists and the Illinois Conservation Police are
working together to develop protocols for addressing interactions
between people and wolves, bears and mountain lions. Conservation
Police will share this information with local law enforcement
agencies, the likely first-responders in the event of a sighting or
nuisance call. Currently, Illinois Conservation Police officers are
allowing these animals to go on their way unless they pose a threat.
What are the chances of populations of wolves, black bears and
mountain lions becoming established in Illinois?
Re-colonization by these species is possible although Illinois has
relatively little suitable habitat in large enough blocks to support
these animals. According to habitat models, only about 14.7 percent
of Illinois’ area is suitable for black bears, 6.6 percent for
mountain lions and 14 percent for gray wolves.
What can Illinois residents do to be prepared for encounters with
Property owners can avoid encounters with wildlife by securing
potential food sources, including pet food, barbecue grills, trash
and other sources. Bird feeders can be taken down temporarily in the
event of a local sighting.
Learn more about living with wildlife in Illinois:
Read the text of SB 3049:
[Text received; ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT
OF NATURAL RESOURCES]