ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — According to the Illinois Bobcat Foundation, the population of bobcats in the state is growing.

Jennifer Kuroda, who started the foundation, says the bobcat – a relative of the mountain lion – is generally a reclusive animal that generally avoids people.

“On the news, they escalate the dangers of bobcats. A hundred percent of the attacks are from bobcats that have rabies,” Kuroda told The Center Square. “A fox or a raccoon or any rabid animal is going to come after you.”

There have been reports of bobcat attacks in suburban areas. Kuroda said the cats normally avoid children or pets, preferring voles and other rodents.

Kuroda, who is from Rockford, said she’s never seen one while out hiking.

She said they’re more likely to be found in southern Illinois.

“The forest preserves there are so well connected that it is not surprising that bobcats are moving through there, or even denning,” she said.

No one knows how many bobcats are currently living in Illinois, but the Illinois Department of Natural Resources estimated the number between 3,000 and 5,000.

Illinois made bobcat hunting legal in 2016.