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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Avid southwestern Illinois trapper Ken Staley for years has craved catching a more exotic prey: bobcats. And soon, he may get his chance.

On the threatened species list for more than two decades until 1999, the cats have made enough of a comeback that Illinois lawmakers approved a measure allowing bobcat hunting in the state for the first time in more than 40 years.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources believes the state’s bobcat population has rebounded to about 5,000 and that regulated hunting will help long-term management of the species.

Opponents question the science behind declaring them recovered and argue bobcat hunting is all about trophies, not food.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn leaves office next month and is said to be reviewing the bill.