Mike Wefer, Chief, Division of Wildlife Resources

Autumn is a season of change. The days grow shorter and plants enter their winter dormancy. Some animals are busy collecting dwindling foods to build their fat reserves; others start a southward migration to warmer climes where their preferred foods remain available. These changes provide outdoor enthusiasts with a wealth of new opportunities, as reflected in many of the articles you can read in the November 1, 2022 edition of the online magazine OutdoorIllinois Journal.

For many outdoor enthusiasts, falling leaves and cooler temperatures signal the onset of the hunting season. Staff of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources—in conjunction with a variety of organizational partners and hunters—are preparing to enter the 21st consecutive season of managing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Thanks to this program, the movement of this always-fatal neurological disease has slowed, and its impacts mitigated in the counties where it is found. Miriam Schlessinger has prepared a story for OutdoorIllinois Journal about her experience working at a Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory participating in CWD research. In this issue you’ll also read forecasts for the upland, waterfowl and deer seasons, receive an explanation of the timing of deer rut and learn about the first white-tailed deer harvested in Cook County in 150-plus years. For a fun read, check out Willow Simmons’ article and stunning photographs detailing her experience watching an exceptional piebald river otter.

For many people, eyes go skyward each fall to witness flocks of birds winging south. Carla Rich Montez delved into the technological advances in science that are allowing researchers to discover new details about bird migration. Stephanie M. Schmidt, with the International Crane Foundation, suggests people watch the fall skies for two iconic wetland migratory species, the whooping crane and sandhill crane. Migrating monarchs also draw considerable attention each fall, and this issue includes an article clarifying the status of this milkweed-dependent butterfly.

Our series highlighting the Natural Divisions of Illinois continues with an exploration of the Green River Lowland in northwest Illinois and an iconic species of the region, the Blanding’s turtle.

Little Grassy Fish Hatchery staff work throughout the year producing and releasing the channel catfish that may eventually show up on your dinner plate. Additional stories of interest to anglers will be an update on the Illinois Lake Michigan Charter Sportfishing Industry, the development of the Illinois muskie program, one woman’s career with the Urban Fishing Program and the process for managing crappie.

That’s not all we’ve prepared for you in this edition of OutdoorIllinois Journal. You can learn how to manage damage caused to your property by black vultures, how to handle problems with nuisance animals, how the Illinois Invasive Species Council is working to safeguard Illinois habitats from invasive species and tips for the landowner interested in restoring a wetland. There also are articles on the value of windbreaks, the differences between lures and baits in trapping and more. Click through the links to discover even more.

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

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