You may be wondering what the “Court of Public Opinion,” ruled in the case of hunter Ronald Mulholland of Des Plaines?
If you recall, the 72-year-old Mulholland was the man who shot what he believed were a pair of elk near Antioch. He did nothing legally wrong, as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources rules are that if there is no designated hunting season for a species of animal, then there are no restrictions on hunting it. In a recent column, I pronounced myself to be the “judge” and asked the readers to be the “jury.” I was flooded with responses.
Most responses made me out to be the villain in the story. Many readers were unhappy that I was against Mulholland’s harvest of the animals, which turned out to be red deer. I did write a column that explained what happened and opined that I thought the killing was wrong and asked the IDNR to change its laws to make all species closed season unless specifically mentioned. My second column where I appointed myself to be the “judge” was unbiased and allowed “testimony” from a hunting pal of Mulholland as a character witness before allowing Mulholland to have his unedited say. I think I was more than fair.
Here’s a little of what you, the jury, had to offer as an opinion in this “case.” Tedd Engel wrote, “Nice shot Ron, there that sums it up! People want a hot button? Concentrate on our politicians and what they want to take away – freedom!”
William Dodson said, “Steve, you were completely out of line. It was mentioned these red deer were imported. Can you say for sure that these animals were inspected by the DNR for diseases that the animals could transmit to other wildlife? If it was ignored, the owner of the red deer should be charged and fined. Every one of those who condemn Mr. Mulholland need to apologize to him”
Al Widtmann added, “I was quite surprised that as an outdoor writer for the state of Illinois you were not fully aware of the laws governing the taking of game in Illinois. Most responsible sportsmen and sportswomen in Illinois can tell you that anything not covered under the Illinois wildlife code is ‘fair game.’ Ron may have very well done the people of Illinois a favor, as biologists have not studied the effects that an established red deer population may have in this portion of the state. There are other considerations as well. You do remember how CWD began, don’t you?”
Garry Hannigan added, “My opinion on the man killing the red deer was probably the smartest decision he made because Steve did you forget that that’s where CWD came from? That’s why the DNR wants them shot.
Gentlemen, a lot of readers allege that CWD was introduced by the importation of nondomestic species but there is no proof to back that theory. And if the IDNR “wants them shot,” they should state so in the rule book.
Jason Kujawa says, “I believe you are completely wrong when saying that animals without hunting seasons should be protected and not able to be harvested. There have been confirmed wild hog sightings in the great state of Illinois. These animals are destructive to crops and our native animals. Protecting an invasive species as this would be foolish.”
Whoa, Jason! I am anti-feral pig, too. I just think they should be declared to have no restrictions on shooting them, just like coyotes are. Why one and not the other?
Dale Tollefson makes his point: “I think most hunters know it – feral animals are fair game. In the satellite of Ferncliff State Park’s Cypress Pond on the Johnson County side, there were a half-dozen cows loose where the state made grasslands. They were there for over 3 years and as far as I know they are still there. I saw those cows repeatedly. I didn’t kill one. To me that wouldn’t seem right. We cannot make a law for every right or wrong. Sometimes you just have to trust most people will do the right thing on a case-by-case basis. We already have too many laws.”
Sorry, Dale, I have a harder time every day assuming that people will do the right thing. True, we don’t need more laws, I am just asking for a change of one paragraph in the existing rules and regs.
Scott Jackson impressed me with his courtesy while disagreeing: “Your Honor, I would like to throw in my opinion on the Ronald Mulholland controversy. There are two species of animals that are predatory in nature which do not exist in Illinois that I do not want on my property and will not hesitate to shoot if one comes by – cougars and bears. I’m sure many fellow hunters would bash me extensively for holding this opinion. In my mind landowners should have the right to legally protect his property and assets from animals that can destroy his crops, soil, livestock, pets and children. Back in the 1990s there was an effort to possibly introduce elk in southern Illinois. That effort died because of complaints by private landowners of the damage elk would cause to the land. As far as Mr. Mulholland and his case is concerned, I see nothing moral or ethically wrong with what he did, and I will not criticize him for his legal choice.”
Even my close buddy, Danny Tischler joined forces with the majority of the readers in a phone call. He asked me, “Were you having a bad day when you wrote that? Are you in a bad state of mind? It’s not like you to take after somebody personally like you did. The poor old guy didn’t do anything illegal. Geez!”
The letters and emails go on and on and on and on. Almost all of them said just about the same thing – Mulholland was right and “Judge” Sarley should be sentenced to serve time for “contempt of court.
In the near future I will print the one – yes, I said “one” – letter I got that backed me, and I’ll let you know about a recent event that happened in another state that may force a lot of you to change your opinion.
• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a Web site for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern Illinois: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “This week’s cold snap is making ice at a fast clip. I do want to tell customers to always be careful around flowing water. The backwaters of the Fox River are good for numbers of fish, not so good on size. Keepers have been about 1 out of 5 to 8 fish. Waxworms, spikes and wigglers all will work fine. For tip-ups use a large roach for pike.
Come see us at the new Chicagoland Fishing Show at the Schaumburg Convention Center Jan. 24 to 27 at booths 630-634 if ice fishing is not in your game plan.”
Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports.
For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit foxwaterway.state.il.us/ or call 847-587-8540.
Wisconsin: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.
2013 Illinois fishing, hunting and sportsman’s combination licenses are available from DNR Direct license and permit vendors, online through the IDNR website (dnr.illinois.gov/online/Pages/default.aspx) or by calling 1-888-6PERMIT (1-888-673-7648). The system is available 24 hours a day. 2013 licenses purchased now, will be valid through March 31, 2014, unless otherwise noted.
My condolences go out to my good friend, Jim Grandt, on the passing of his 91-year-old-father, Wil. Jim, of course, is the builder of the world’s finest line of fishing rods and was on his way back from an outdoors show in Cleveland when he received the bad news. Grandt and his dad were extremely close and Jim always credited Wil with much of his success because of his dad’s support and counsel.
IDNR Director Marc Miller has announced Randy Smith of downstate Havana has joined the IDNR as wetland program manager in the Division of Wildlife Resources. “Management of the state’s wetland wildlife program is critically important to the Department’s efforts to protect waterfowl habitat and improve public migratory waterfowl areas within the state,” Miller said. “Randy brings a wealth of experience to the job and we’re delighted to welcome him to our team.” Smith comes to the IDNR from the Illinois Natural History Survey, where he served as a waterfowl scientist at the INHS Forbes Biological Station in Havana.
NRA membership soars
It’s really no surprise that the National Rifle Association has seen an incredible explosion in membership following the tragic events in Connecticut back in early December. The Sandy Hook tragedy drew out staunch defenders of gun rights. The NRA has gained over 100,000 new members, bringing the organization’s total membership to 4.2 million. The NRA is planning a campaign to oppose new gun control regulations, which will include sending representatives to gun shows as well as mobilizing members to voice their concerns directly to congress. This initiative will include recruiting new members on a massive scale. The NRA’s goal is to get to 5 million before the latest round of gun control debates is over.
Just before his withdrawal on January 18 of his position as Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar announced the establishment of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge on January 13. Hackmatack is the 561st national wildlife refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System and is the tenth refuge established during Secretary Salazar’s tenure.
The refuge was officially established with the acquisition of a 12-acre habitat easement donation from Chicago-based Openlands, an organization dedicated to the protection of the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region. Hackmatack Refuge will be a true partnership effort that involves many local, state and federal agencies, citizen-driven groups and other nongovernmental organizations. The project, when complete, will encompass a total of almost 12,000 acres in both Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin,
Governor Patrick Quinn said, “The establishment of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge will help keep open spaces, including wetlands and grasslands, within easy reach of millions of people living in largely urban areas of Chicagoland and Northeast Illinois. Thanks to the vision of conservation leaders and organizations throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area, Hackmatack will provide a way to connect children, families and all urban and suburban residents to nature and wildlife.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the establishment of the refuge on July 10, 2012, with the first parcel added on November 6, 2012.