February2024
Feb 1, 2024
  • Wildlife
Wapiti Walkabout
by Laura Kammin

In the fall, bull elk are focused on finding mates. Less dominant males, without hope of breeding with local females, often travel in their quest to procreate. Some travel farther than others. From September to December 2023, a young bull elk from the Wisconsin Black River Falls herd made a historic journey, traveling through southeastern Wisconsin and into northern Illinois. This was the first documented wild elk in Illinois in more than 150 years.

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Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife
NWTF, Our Fiftieth and Beyond
by John Burk

The National Wild Turkey Federation is, and has been, considered a national leader in the nongovernmental conservation organization arena, especially as it relates to work with upland habitats, and, more specifically, the forested habitats that wild turkeys rely upon. Since their inception 50 years ago, Illinois chapters have been at the head of the pack in fund raising and putting dollars raised to work on the ground.

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Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Research
  • Wildlife
The Role of Landscape Scale in Determining Mesopredator Abundances
by Nathan Proudman

Human modification of the natural landscape has been significant in the past century, with wild landscapes transformed into landscapes better fit for people. Transitional areas between agriculture and natural landscapes often create challenges for wildlife but not all species are negatively affected. Mesopredators, such as Virginia opossums, striped skunks and northern raccoons, have learned to navigate these complex environments safely.

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Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Research
  • Wildlife
City Slickers: Coexistence strategies of coyotes and red foxes in the urban jungle
by Max Allen

Next time you’re strolling through Chicago, keep an eye out for more than just skyscrapers—coyotes and foxes are sharing our concrete wilderness. This study led by Alyson Cervantes sheds light on the secrets of the coexistence of these canids, adding a touch of wild drama to the urban scene. In the concrete jungle of the Windy City, these predators are not just surviving, they are thriving.

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Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Recreation
  • Research
  • Wildlife
Where Did All These Things Come From?!
by Randy Smith

The continental population and range of “light geese,” a group of medium to small geese that breed in the Arctic and winter from central Illinois south to the Gulf of Mexico, shifted substantially in the last 40 years. Learn why the population jumped from historical populations around 750,000 to 1 million individuals to 10 million in the mid-1990s, and what that means for the Arctic ecosystem and goose hunters.

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Welcome to the November 2023 edition of the online magazine OutdoorIllinois Journal, featuring timely, seasonally based stories about the Prairie State’s wildlife resources, with an expansion of content to include a broader range of subjects—including endangered and threatened species and Illinois’ unique, high-quality habitats and the people working to preserve, protect and manage these resources.

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November2023
Nov 29, 2023
“Carp-e diem”—Muestreo de Carpas Invasoras en el Río Chicago
by Claire Snyder

Trabajando dentro de un paisaje urbano, equipos de tripulaciones de botes inspeccionan las pesquerías del Río Chicago cada primavera y otoño. Estas inspecciones están diseñadas para asegurar que los carpas cabezones y plateados no hayan superado la barrera eléctrica río abajo y los esfuerzos de recolección para prevenir que estas especies invasoras se acerquen al Lago Michigan.

Nov 1, 2023
Trail Cameras – Turn a Fun Pastime into Useful Hunting Data
by Curtis Twellmann

Using trail cameras is an enjoyable activity—and will help teach you about deer and the environment in which they live. A simple spreadsheet nothing the time of day of the photos, and the age and sex of the deer, turns mountains of picture data into something really useful. Give this author’s method a try and see if maybe you can swing “luck” in your favor.

Nov 1, 2023
Top 5 Ways to Have a Wildlife-Friendly Yard This Fall
by Laura Kammin

Neighborhoods reverberating with the sounds of lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Streets lined with paper bags filled to the brim with leaf “litter” and yard “waste.” With increasing awareness about declining populations of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife, it is time to rethink fall yard “clean up.” Here are five things you can do this fall that will make your yard more wildlife-friendly this season and throughout the year.

Nov 1, 2023
La Historia de las Garzas Urbanas de Chicago: Una Maravilla Natural en el Corazón de la Ciudad; ¿Una Esperanza para el Futuro?
by Amy Lardner

Los visitantes curiosos que pasean por el Zoológico de Lincoln Park en Chicago se detienen y maravillan ante los grandes pájaros agrupados justo sobre la cerca. Las garzas nocturnas de corona negra, especie en peligro en Illinois, han anidado en el parque durante 17 años, brindando un encuentro salvaje y mágico para los transeúntes.

Nov 1, 2023
Coexistiendo con la Vida Silvestre Urbana
by Laura Kammin

¿Hasta dónde se extiende la comunidad? ¿Cuáles son nuestras expectativas y responsabilidades hacia quienes viven a nuestro alrededor? Parece que el punto conflictivo de coexistir con la vida silvestre se reduce a cuestiones de proximidad y abundancia.

Nov 1, 2023
El Arte Paga la Cuenta de los Patos
by Patty Gillespie, Sarah Marjanovic

La naturaleza beneficia al artista cuya creatividad es estimulada por ella. Nosotros, los espectadores del arte, nos involucramos y nos iluminamos. Así, a través del arte, nos beneficiamos más profundamente de la naturaleza. Mediante un acto del Congreso en 1934, la naturaleza se comenzaría a beneficiar del arte.

Nov 1, 2023
Una Noche para Recordar: IDNR en la Noche de la Herencia Hispana de los Chicago White Sox
by Jose Burgos

“Todos Pertenecen a la Naturaleza,” resultó ser un principio estrechamente alineado con el tema de celebración inclusiva de la Noche de la Herencia Hispana.

Nov 1, 2023
Chicago’s Urban Heron Story: A Natural Marvel in the Heart of the City; A Hope for the Future?
by Amy Lardner

Curious visitors strolling past Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo stop and marvel at the large birds clustered just over the fence. Illinois-endangered black-crowned night-herons have nested at the Park for 17 years, providing a wild and magical encounter for passersby.

Nov 1, 2023
When Hunting Season’s Over, Habitat Season Begins:
Part 3 – Bush Honeysuckle; A Hunter’s Foe
by Nathan Grider

When the hunting season is over and the season for habitat management begins, many people take to the woods to tackle an environmental disaster—the invasion of bush honeysuckle. Author Nathan Grider shares his experiences removing bush honeysuckle to improve wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities.

Nov 1, 2023
“Carp-e diem”—Sampling for Invasive Carp on the Chicago River
by Claire Snyder

Working within an urban landscape, teams of boat crews survey the fisheries of the Chicago River each spring and fall. These surveys are designed to assure that bighead, and silver have not breached the downstream electric barrier and harvest efforts in place to prevent these invasive species from approaching Lake Michigan.

Nov 1, 2023
  • People
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife
Meet the Staff: Doug McClain, Waterfowl Program Manager
by Kaleigh Gabriel

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ new Waterfowl Program Manager, Doug McClain, grew up in Ohio hunting geese with his father and grandfather, which he attributes to his desire to pursue a career in waterfowl management. After earning a Master’s degree researching nest site selection of wood ducks across the Cache River watershed, and working in a variety of positions in waterfowl management, he’s excited to work on improving waterfowl management across Illinois.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • People
  • Recreation
A Night to Remember: IDNR at Chicago White Sox’s Hispanic Heritage Night
by Jose Burgos

“Everyone Belongs in Nature,” the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ newest theme, came to life in late September at a Chicago White Sox game where a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Night occurred. Loyal baseball fans were reminded—or perhaps introduced—to another aspect of spending time outdoors, outdoor recreation.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife
5 FAQs About Single-Shot, Centerfire Rifles for Deer Hunting
by Kaleigh Gabriel

Effective January 1, 2023, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law allowing hunters to utilize certain single-shot, centerfire rifles during firearm deer seasons, adhering to legal regulations on the size and caliber of ammunition and capabilities of the rifle in use. Here is a quick list of commonly asked questions regarding legal calibers for ammunition and logistics for where and when rifles are permitted for hunting.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Recreation
Lifelong Learning to Fish
by Kristopher Maxson

Author Kristopher Maxson credits his love of fishing to his father and grandfather. That love grew into a greater love and passion for aquatic ecosystems, and today he works as a fisheries biologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey at the Illinois River Biological Station in Havana. When an opportunity arose to learn something new, he found flyfishing provided a close connection to the wild outdoors.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife
Do You Know the Sawbill?
by Kevin Wright

Do you know the sawbill, also known as a spikebill, sharpy, fuzzhead and frog duck? If we had included hooded merganser in that list your answer would undoubtedly have been different. Hooded mergansers are a common migrant in Illinois, and some stay to nest. Learn more about the courtship display of the showy male hooded merganser, and the nesting habits of one of Illinois’ cavity nesting duck species.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Recreation
  • Research
  • Wildlife
Ticks: The unwanted connection between people, pets and wildlife.
by Elliot Zieman

Tick-borne diseases have increased in the U.S. in the last few decades. Several ideas exist as to why these diseases have seen such a rapid growth but it boils down to more ticks, and therefore, more tick bites that could transmit pathogens. Ticks in Illinois can transmit several types of pathogens. Correct identification of the pathogen is important to ensure proper treatment.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Land
  • Research
  • Wildlife
Managing Private Lands for Grassland Birds
by Justin J. Shew

Grassland bird declines across North America have been a consistent theme in past decades. Thankfully, many Farm Bill conservation programs for private landowners have alleviated these declines. The author’s research suggests that disking might be a good, conservative, tractor-based management practice for CRP landowners that diversifies plant communities and improves brood-rearing habitat for popular game species such as pheasants, quail and wild turkey.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Research
  • Wildlife
Disease Dynamics in Birds at the Top of the Avian Food Chain
by Travis Wilcoxen

Bird pink eye, West Nile Virus and tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, are three diseases that impact wildlife populations at lethal and sub-lethal levels. Learn about some of the many disease surveillance techniques that are used in monitoring wildlife populations, with an emphasis here on populations of wild birds.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Land
  • Research
Understanding the Distribution and Ecology of Forested Ephemeral Wetlands
by Ethan Kessler

Forested ephemeral wetlands are small, temporary wet spots that roil with life. Although a common wetland type throughout the eastern deciduous forests of the United States, they largely escape notice. Modern technologies using lidar-based methods are now helping to identify ephemeral wetlands in southern Illinois.

Nov 1, 2023
  • Land
  • People
How Will We Celebrate a 100th Anniversary?
by Amy Doll

As the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Illinois Nature Preserve System is coming to a close, Amy Doll, Executive Director of the Friends of Illinois Nature Preserves poses an excellent question: What will Illinois nature look like in 40 years when we celebrate the 100th anniversary?