Illinois Gov. Rauner OKs bobcat hunting

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation making it legal to hunt bobcats in Illinois.

Regulatory officials said after the signing Tuesday that the first hunting season won’t open until late 2016 because the state must get federal and other permits.

Supportive lawmakers say the once-endangered cat now numbers as many as 5,000 in the Prairie State and poses a nuisance and potential danger.

The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement the “shy and elusive” bobcat weighs little more than a house cat. They say lawmakers relied on “absurd and outlandish exaggerations” to garner support. The organization adds Rauner received thousands of calls urging a veto.

Rauner says regulators will closely monitor the population and suspend hunting if necessary.