Outdoors - Steve Sarley

Sarley: IDNR has made some good decisions

Most outdoors people are quick on the trigger to take the Illinois DNR to task when it is felt a bad decision has been made. I count myself in that list of critics. It often seems like anything the IDNR does is viewed as wrong.

But the IDNR has made a couple of decisions for which they should be given a hearty pat on the back.

The IDNR has decided not to cancel the opening of the put-and-take trout season, even though most of the Northern Illinois locations are still frozen over.

They punched holes in the ice and stocked the lakes and ponds with fish. No ice fishing is allowed and you’ll be able to fish for the trout as soon as the ice disappears. This is far better than canceling the season and trying to out-guess the weather by establishing a new date. When you can open water fish for the trout, go out and get some!

The second excellent decision concerns changes in the rules for hunting feral pigs. Feral pigs are basically farm pigs that have escaped and live in the wild. Yes, there are some wild boars that were introduced to our wilds years ago and those boars have crossbred with the pigs. Feral have become a problem in most of the states in the union, including Hawaii.

Feral pigs reproduce at an incredible rate. Each female can have two litters a year and each litter can run to 10 to 12 piglets. These beasts are very destructive to farmer’s crops, vegetation, nesting birds and small animals. They carry parasites and diseases. Their waste contaminates water supplies. They have sharp tusks and are known to attack humans. Scared? You should be. These beasts grow up to 10 feet long.

Most states are under attack from exploding feral pig populations. Illinois declared a state of emergency a year ago and put feral pigs under an open season for hunters.

It is legal for hunters to only kill pigs during the firearms deer season. This effectively stops anyone from importing pigs for the purpose of offering paid hunting opportunities for pigs. It seems that a few individuals have been attempting to start feral pig ranches that are fenced. The problem is that these animals often escape.

“Feral swine are detrimental to wildlife and wildlife habitat and can spread disease. This new rule will make it possible for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to more effectively control the spread of feral swine in Illinois,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Through our collaborative efforts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are well on our way to eliminating feral swine from our landscape.”

The IDNR has been working with landowners for three years to eliminate the pigs. The population was counted at 400 pigs at the highest point. Now, the Illinois pig population is down to 20 and the IDNR wants them totally gone.

Hunters have done a good job eliminating many of the pigs but now that the number is so small, it is feared that hunters are making the pigs more wary and making them spread out and separate, making finding the last 20 pigs more difficult.

“I am proud of our efforts in eliminating these destructive invasive animals," IDNR director Mark Miller said. "We’ve done a good job and are doing it the right way. I am certain that we will totally eliminate them.”


Northern Illinois – Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Walleye fishing at the Algonquin, Carpentersville and McHenry dams picked up this week. Use a 1/8th-oz. jig head with a large or extra-large fathead minnow. I like a light colored jig on bright days and a dark color on overcast days or when the water is stained. Bluegills and crappie can be caught in the channels that are open on an ice jig or a small ball-head jig with a spike or wax worm for bait. Trout season opens on the April 5 and can be caught on small spoons, spinners, wax worms or prepared trout bait. McHenry County Conservation has a family fishing fun fair going on at three locations on April 5."

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