Outdoors: Not much 'protection' in bill

This black bear was spotted by DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Duehning near Derby Line Road south of Genoa on June 11.
This black bear was spotted by DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Duehning near Derby Line Road south of Genoa on June 11.

I received a letter from Keith Shank, who is with the IDNR’s Impact Assessment Section of the Division of Ecosystems & Environment. He wrote, “Regarding your recent column on the ethics of shooting bears, the current situation is not exactly as described.”

I am always glad to set the record straight if I have made a mistake, or in this case, have misinterpreted something.

Shank pointed out that although Senate Bill 3049 was sent to the Governor on June 27, it has not yet been signed and so is not yet the “law of the land.” Bill 3049 is the new law that amends the wildlife code to include mountain lions, black bears and wolves. The governor has 60 days to sign the bill for it to become law Jan. 1.

Shank explained that by adding these species to the wildlife code, it empowers the IDNR to issue administrative rules addressing the taking of these species. The IDNR cannot issue these rules until after the governor signs the bill, thus, IDNR has not issued any new rules concerning these species.

Shank wrote, “Press releases surrounding this bill have universally proclaimed that the intent of the bill was to 'protect' these animals. The initial bill simply added the species to the code so that they would be subject to IDNR jurisdiction and management. However, the bill was amended. The enacted version states it shall not be unlawful for any land owner, tenant or their 'designated agent' to take a mountain lion, black bear or wolf if they perceive the animal poses a potential imminent threat to persons, livestock or structures.”

Shank wrote that the bill also allows a land owner or tenant to seek a “nuisance animal” permit from the IDNR even when the animal is not posing a potential imminent threat. He wrote, “Unaccountably, nobody seems to have noticed this, and the bill received unanimous votes in both House and Senate.”

Shank explained, “As you correctly note, at this time, there is no law against anyone killing two of these three animals (that have been sighted in Illinois). It has been some time since the last bear sighting, and one wonders whether that animal has been killed. However, given the language of the bill as enacted, after January 1 a bear could be legally shot for raiding a bird feeder, leaning on a garage door or simply setting foot on someone’s property. And, since hunters must have the landowner’s permission to hunt their land, that might be enough to consider any hunter the land owner’s 'designated agent.' Since all lands are owned by someone, and since any living animal may be perceived as posing a potential threat, the bill as enacted is nearly a shoot-on-sight authorization. That’s some 'protection.'

Shank went on to explain that the new law, if signed, could put endangered species laws into direct conflict with the new state regulations.

He finished by writing, “I’m just one of the troops and I have no idea how the Department plans to reconcile these competing directives. Everything is verifiable from publicly available documents. I’d just like to see some facts out there, instead of endless repetition of press releases and political talking points.” 

I still pose the question to all of you readers. Who believes that a bear will be killed with a bow or gun between now and the end of the year, no matter whether Gov. Quinn signs the bill or how the bill is implemented?


Northern Illinois fishing report: Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports, “I was able to fish Three Oaks Recreation area in Crystal Lake this week. I fished with Doug Becker, the inventor of the Defender jig. We started out at 5:40 a.m. and worked Yamamoto Senkos rigged wacky-style along the south shoreline. This produced five largemouth bass. We were fishing in 1 to 3 feet of water. After the sun was up and we had very little cloud cover, we went to 16 to 21 feet and caught both pike and largemouth on a three-fourths-ounce Defender jig. After drifting off an edge we saw fish marked on the fish finder in 24 to 30 feet of water. We continued to fish the jig and caught bass and pike. We ended up with ten pike from 18 to 27 inches in length and 10 largemouth, with the biggest about three pounds. Call 815-455-2040 for an updated report. To see the statewide fishing report for Illinois, please go to

As of Wednesday, the Upper and Lower Fox River and the Fox Chain all were deemed to be open for boating by the Fox Waterway Agency. For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit or call 847-587-8540.

Honest John from C.J. Smith’s resort on Grass Lake sends word, “Fishermen are having great success on the Chain. Largemouth bass, bluegills and catfish are really biting in many areas. Stripers have started biting as well, but the big run is yet to come. Watch for the seagulls circling above the lake – especially Bluff Lake – the huge school of stripers will be right below. 

This is a fun time to bring the kids out for some fast, furious, fishing action.

Largemouth bass are biting very well. Work the lily pads, weedlines and any brush piles along lake shorelines especially in the Spring Lake channels, to find them. Try crankbaits, rubber worms or nightcrawlers. Bluegills are in the channels, including the Spring Lake channels, the channel toward Bluff Lake and under piers and boats just south of the Spring Lake/Grass Lake Road Bridge. Pieces of nightcrawler, redworms or waxworms on a No. 8 hook with a small split shot and small bobber work very well.

Catfish are good by using nightcrawlers, stink bait, shrimp or large fathead minnows in the shallow channels around Spring Lake. Stripers are eating small minnows and spikes. Try using a white or chartreuse Cubby Mini-Mite jig for some added flash. Walleyes are hitting along the south shore of Petite Lake, east of the willow tree along the steel seawall. Also try drifting the sandbar in Lake Marie for some nice ones using XL fathead minnows, nightcrawlers or large leeches. Pike have been showing up in the southwest bay of Petite Lake and hitting yellow Mepps Spinners or Flicker Shad (Fire Tiger or Chartreuse are hot colors).  

Lake Michigan fishing report: ”Fishing is still pretty slow on Lake Michigan. Some fish are being taken in 50 to 300 feet of water. Lead core, downriggers, and dipsy divers are all taking fish. The key right now is covering lots of water, because the salmon and trout are scattered throughout the lake. Moonshine's Razor Burn spoon is a good one for both trout and salmon.”

The Lake Michigan Fishing Report is provided by Captain Bob Rossa of Migrator Charters based out of Northpoint Marina –

Wisconsin fishing report: Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries. 

Cabela's Archer Classic: Cabela’s in Hoffman Estates at Route 59 and Higgins Road will host its 2014 Archery Classic on Saturday and Sunday with several free educational opportunities and activities for families to enjoy. Special guest Don Pickell will be at the store both days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will host a free “Harvesting a Heart Stopper” seminar each day at noon. Pickell will provide attendees with tips to use this deer season. Veteran seminar speaker Jeremy Woods will be in attendance Saturday and Sunday to present two seminars on both “Ozonics” scent control and the “Skills and Drills for Bowhunting.” Woods’ sessions are great for those just starting out, or any experienced hunter looking to further their knowledge. In addition, the Archery Academy will be set up outside the front of the store with a beginner’s archery range at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. All ages are welcome to take a shot with a bow and arrow at a target with a parent or legal guardian’s consent and completion of liability waiver. Vendor representatives and experts from many of the brands Cabela’s offers will be on hand to share knowledge and tips with bowhunting enthusiasts. Customers are also invited to enter for a chance to win a deer hunt for two with included $2,000 shopping spree, courtesy of Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures. 

Deer season changes: Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller announced changes to the 2014-15 deer hunting seasons this week, including the removal of 20 additional counties from the late-winter season and a reduction in the number of firearm permits available in some counties. IDNR biologists made recommendations for the coming season following a review of deer hunting harvest numbers, deer-vehicle accident data, a survey of Illinois deer hunters, hemorrhagic disease reports and other factors.

“Solid science is the basis of our deer program,” Miller said. “These changes reflect our commitment to professional management of the state’s deer population to provide recreational opportunity while being mindful of public safety and the rights of property owners.” 

The Late-Winter Antlerless-Only Deer Hunting Season will be closed in 20 additional counties this year, including Adams, Bond, Bureau, Calhoun, Clinton, Cumberland, Fayette, Hancock, Jefferson, Jersey, Logan, Menard, Perry, Randolph, Richland, Sangamon, Scott, St. Clair, Whiteside, and Woodford. Thirty-two counties already are closed to the late-winter season. Thirty-five counties remain open for the late-winter season, while an additional 12 counties are open for the special chronic wasting disease season.   

The number of firearm permits has been reduced in some counties. Statewide, the number of either-sex permits is being reduced by 4,925. Antlerless-only permits are being reduced by 6,375. The 11,300 permits amount to a reduction of about 4.1 percent. Last year, 277,585 firearm permits were available compared with 266,285 for the upcoming season. 

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