Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Chief’s Letter

Mike Wefer, Chief, Division of Wildlife Resources

Welcome to the August 1, 2020 edition of the online magazine OutdoorIllinois Wildlife Journal (OIWJ), featuring timely, seasonally based stories about the Prairie State’s wildlife resources. The COVID-19 situation continues to be serious, and like so many businesses, agencies and organizations, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Resources staff have been adapting their work practices to continue to monitor Illinois’ wildlife populations, while working from home. We understand the challenges many people are facing during this unique time and hope that you and your families stay safe and healthy.

This edition of OIWJ includes an article about a historic event that occurred in June when a Wisconsin black bear entered the Prairie State, proceeding on a nearly month-long southbound trek, eventually crossing into Missouri north of St. Louis. Once common in Illinois, black bears were eliminated from the state by 1870 and the 2020 sighting is only the fifth bear occurrence in Illinois since 2008. Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police and numerous law enforcement agencies and IDNR biologists worked around the clock to heighten public awareness of the need to maintain safe distances from the bear, both for the safety of the public and to minimize undo stress to the bear.

For many, the 2020-2021 hunting season kicks off August 1 and with it comes the anticipated release of the latest Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations. You’ll want to pay particular attention to regulation changes highlighted in the Digest, and you may find the quick reference guide—available in English, Spanish and Polish—a valuable tool as you plan this year’s hunts.

On the hunting front, this edition includes hunting forecasts for the wild turkey, squirrel, ring-necked pheasant, quail and rabbit. Hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts in general, should check out the story about a new series of webinars on identifying plants commonly consumed by Illinois game species.

The heat of late summer is when Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, starts to appear and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources reminds outdoor enthusiasts to report sick and dead deer. Read this edition of the Journal for an article summarizing reported cases over recent years, and to refresh your knowledge of the signs of this acute, infectious disease of white-tailed deer.

Great work is taking place across the Illinois landscape on public and private land management benefitting wildlife populations. In this edition you’ll find an article on maximizing winter habitat for wild turkeys and another showcasing the work taking place on Illinois’ first quail focal area. Another feature describes one family’s commitment to the restoration of historic wetlands to provide recreational opportunities, promote waterfowl reproduction and provide quality migratory bird habitat.

On the research front this edition of OutdoorIllinois Wildlife Journal provides insights into a project to find the wet lands in Illinois’ wetlands and a how a study on wetland-dependent birds will help land managers and biologists fine-tune wetland management practices to benefit wildlife and human needs.

Among the other interesting features are stories on badgers, muskrats, handling nuisance wild turkeys and the damaging effects of feeding wildlife. Look for these stories and more inside this edition of OutdoorIllinois Wildlife Journal.

OutdoorIllinois Wildlife Journalis a collaborative effort led by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. Funding for OutdoorIllinois Wildlife Journal was made available through Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W-147-T.

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