May2024
May 1, 2024
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • People
Meet the New Kid in Class: Fish!
Aquaculture in the classroom helps inspire the next generation of students
by Claire Snyder

When you think of fish in a classroom, you may not be picturing fish tanks the size of hot tubs, complete with recirculating pipes, biofiltration, and chemical management systems, but that’s just what some students across the state get to experience.

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May 1, 2024
  • People
  • Wildlife
Wildlife Illinois Redesigned
by Anderson Wiese

For all these years the Wildlife Illinois website has served well, but it was beginning to get a little long in the tooth. Technology, design, and usability needed a refresh. Read more to discover the usage trends and design choices that informed the look of the newly updated Wildlife Illinois website.

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May 1, 2024
  • Land
The Do’s and Don’ts for Management Invasive Plants in the Spring
by Christopher Evans

Invasive plants are a big problem in natural landscapes in Illinois. These species can impact our native plant species and reduce the quality of habitat for wildlife. Managing invasive plants is a year-round endeavor but it pays to know what the right time is to conduct management to be most efficient and successful. Here’s the management activities best suited for springtime.

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May 1, 2024
  • Wildlife
Wasps Debunked
by Josh Klostermann

There really are not many animals that can conjure an almost universal fear and disgust in people like wasps do. But what if I were to tell you most wasps do not even possess a stinger and that this group of insects we call “wasps” provides some of our most necessary ecosystem services, from pest control to pollination?

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May 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Wildlife
Safe Nest Cover, The Key to Sustaining Ring-Necked Pheasants in Agricultural Landscapes
by John Cole

In mid-February, two male ring-necked pheasants wandered through our yard on the north edge of town. As temperatures warm and days grow longer, rooster pheasants disperse across the landscape, establish crowing territories and begin behaviors to attract hens. The annual effort to maintain the species begins again.

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Welcome to the May 2024 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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February2024
Feb 1, 2024
IDNR Urban Fishing Instruction in the Classroom Expands in 2024 with Bussing Grants
by IDNR ENTICE, Urban Fishing Program Staff

The Urban Fishing Program is gearing up for another season of fun-filled fishing with schools across the state. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is thrilled to announce that grant money is now available to cover the cost of transportation to fishing locations.

Feb 1, 2024
A Fish of a Different Color
by Cory Suski, Justin Lombardo

Fish are the most biodiverse vertebrates on planet Earth, so it is no surprise that they come in a variety of different colors and patterns. The color scheme that a fish expresses is far more than just eye candy to the devout angler, but an integral component of a fish’s ability to navigate life in a harsh aquatic ecosystem.

Feb 1, 2024
Lessons Learned from My Love Affair with the Owls
by Gretchen Steele

In the quiet corners of the grasslands at Pyramid State Recreation Area, where the owls gaze upon the world, I found a subject for my lens and a lifelong companion. My love affair with short-eared owls became a journey of self-discovery, a voyage into the heart of nature, and an odyssey of lessons that continue to unfold each passing season.

Feb 1, 2024
Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation of Recreational Anglers in Illinois
by North Joffe-Nelson, Carena J. Van Riper

Who is and isn’t fishing? What are the ages and genders of current anglers? Where do Illinois anglers live? Why are fewer people buying fishing licenses over time? Researchers are working to gain insights into recruitment, retention and reactivation of recreational anglers in Illinois to benefit the management of fisheries resources to meet the needs of all Illinoisians.

Feb 1, 2024
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.

Feb 1, 2024
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.

Feb 1, 2024
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.

Feb 1, 2024
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.

Feb 1, 2024
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.

Feb 1, 2024
Meet the Staff: Jacob Lux, District Wildlife Biologist
by Kaleigh Gabriel

A love of waterfowl hunting helped to ignite a passion for wildlife conservation in Lux. As a District Wildlife Biologist for Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Lux uses his lifelong passion and extensive background in natural resources conservation to serve his assigned counties: Adams, Fulton, Hancock, McDonough and Schuyler.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Recreation
Simplifying Duck ID with GISS
by Curtis Twellmann

For the author, little is as awe-inspiring as large flocks of ducks or geese landing within range. With a potential for a diversity of species flying overhead, identification needs to happen before the shot. Books are great for knowing which field marks go with each species, but identification can be made faster using GISS to quickly describe a bird’s general impression of size and shape.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • People
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife
A Brighter, Greener Future for Illinois: The IDNR Climate Action Plan
by Kathy Andrews Wright

Working in concert with a variety of partners, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is on track to reduce the agency’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050. In conjunction with the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center at the University of Illinois, more than 70 people from all facets of the agency developed a Climate Action Plan. Pilot projects will be undertaken to test new ideas before they are rolled out to the whole agency. The actions will create a brighter, greener future for IDNR and the people of Illinois.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Wildlife
The Barn Owl—Ghost of the Night
by Robert J. Reber

The large whitish, heart-shaped face of a barn owl, and light body color, separates it from the eight other species of owls occurring in Illinois. In addition to natural cavities, the once-endangered barn owl nests in farm buildings such as barns, cribs, and silos, as well as commercial grain elevators. Read here to learn more about the life history of the barn owl and what you might do to attract nesting owls to your property.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Wildlife
Spotted Lanternfly Spotted in Illinois
by Ryan Pankau, Tricia Bethke

On September 16, 2023, experts confirmed the arrival of a new invasive species in Illinois with the first documented occurrence of the spotted lanternfly. That insect was located in Cook County. Winter (January-March) is the best time to hunt for spotted lanternfly egg masses on trees, when the leaves are off and egg masses are easy to spot and remove. Destroying spotted lanternfly eggs before they hatch can help to reduce the number of adults and control the spread of this invasive pest.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Recreation
  • Wildlife
Birding in Your Backyard
by Willow Simmons

The 2022 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation produced by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, reports that wildlife watching is immensely popular, with more than half of the U.S. population 16 years of age and older enjoying watching wildlife in 2022. That equates to 57 percent of the U.S. population viewing wildlife and a large majority of the wildlife watchers—91.1 million—observing birds around their homes. Are you one of those wildlife watchers, or interested in joining the crowd? Either way, read on to learn about this popular activity.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Wildlife
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
by Kathy Andrews Wright

Winter’s frigid temperatures and pelting precipitation have we humans throwing another log on the fire, bumping up the thermostat and donning another layer of clothing before heading outdoors. In the natural world, some organisms will move south where warmer weather ensures the availability of food and water resources. For others, some interesting strategies are required for finding food and water when temperatures plummet and snow or ice cover their habitat.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Research
  • Wildlife
Conservation of Kirtland’s Snake – A Wet Prairie Species Specialist
by Dr. John Crawford

Kirtland’s snake is a fossorial species inhabiting wet prairies, wet meadows, prairie fens and associated wetlands throughout its range; its range is primarily restricted to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey and National Great Rivers Research and Education Center have been conducting studies for the conservation and management of this snake in Illinois, and have discovered a handful of previously unknown populations.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Research
  • Wildlife
What is the Difference Between Tuberculosis, Paratuberculosis and Mycoplasmosis in Deer?
by Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, Nelda A. Rivera

Learning to differentiate white-tailed deer diseases can be challenging. The signs observed by people and symptoms presented by animals can be identical. Surveillance is vital for recognizing new or re-emerging bacterial diseases, which helps to improve management strategies that can protect wildlife, livestock and human health.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • People
  • Wildlife
Meet the Staff: Ross Albert, District Wildlife Biologist
by Kaleigh Gabriel

Through his role as a District Wildlife Biologist for Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Albert’s devotion to a career in conservation will continue. Within his assigned counties of Brown, Morgan, Pike and Scott, Albert will also oversee the improvement of many public land sites.

Feb 1, 2024
  • Land
  • Wildlife
Start with One Yard: Bringing Back Beneficial Insects
by Laura Kammin

Goldfinches fly away to escape the cold. Woodchucks hibernate in underground burrows, safe from the snow. But most butterflies, bees and other insects must find ways to survive the winter with the cover that is available nearby. Leaf litter, standing flower stalks, and peeling bark can all be literal life savers—if they are allowed to remain on the landscape.