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Recent entries


Through the Lens

SB0201 Seeks to Ban All Lead Ammunition For Hunting

Sat, February 02, 2019

There’s been a flurry of bills introduced during the first few weeks of legislative session in Illinois, and rest assured that we will be providing a look at all of them in the coming few days, but SB0201 just jumped out at me on the “WHAT????!!” list.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Iris Martinez (D) of the 20th district, seemed straight forward enough when I started reading through it.

“Section 5. The Wildlife Code is amended by adding Section
5 2.5b as follows:

6   (520 ILCS 5/2.5b new)
7   Sec. 2.5b. Nontoxic ammunition.
8   (a) Except as provided in subsections (e) and (g), and as
9 soon as can be practicably implemented by the Department of
10 Natural Resources under subsection (d), nontoxic ammunition,
11 as certified by the Department, shall be required when taking
12 all wildlife, including game mammals, game birds, non-game
13 birds, and non-game mammals with any firearm.
14   (b) The Department shall adopt by rule a public process to
15 certify ammunition as nontoxic ammunition and shall define, by
16 rule, nontoxic ammunition to include only ammunition in which
17 there is no lead content, excluding the presence of trace
18 elements of lead. The Department shall establish and annually
19 update a list of certified ammunition. The list of certified
20 ammunition shall include, but not be limited to, any federally
21 approved nontoxic shotgun ammunition.”

Nothing surprising in that section, and I think a good many of us saw some type of push to ban all lead ammo coming. We all have our individual arguments for/against; we know how to fight a lead ammunition ban. We know what to do, have data and arguments at the ready.

What caused me to nearly fall out of my chair – was the second section of the bill. The section that frankly, in my opinion is just ridiculous and would be a giant fiasco.

(c) To the extent that funding is available, the Department
23 shall establish a process that provides hunters with nontoxic
1 ammunition at no or reduced charge. The process shall provide
2 that the offer for nontoxic ammunition at no or reduced charge
3 may be redeemed through a coupon sent to a permit holder with
4 the appropriate permit tag. If available funding is not
5 sufficient to provide nontoxic ammunition at no charge, the
6 Department shall set the value of the reduced charge coupon at
7 the maximum value possible through available funding, up to the
8 average cost within this State for nontoxic ammunition, as
9 determined by the Department. The nontoxic ammunition coupon
10 program described in this subsection (c) shall be implemented
11 to the extent that there is sufficient funding within the
12 Department.

Our DNR is already underfunded and understaffed. Thankfully there is included the all important phrase “ to the extent funding is available”. This bill would task IDNR with setting up this entire program to PROVIDE non toxic ammunition.  AT NO OR REDUCED COST.  Could someone please explain to me how exactly this could or would work? Putting our DNR in the position of distributing ammunition sets off a whole series of questions.  First question is does this after the fact turn our DNR into an ammunition dealer? Is that even legal?

I can’t quite figure out the intended logistics of this proposed program either. How would a hunter actually acquire the no/low cost non toxic ammunition or “coupons” ?  Do you get your ammunition when you get your tags and permits? 

It seems to me that this bill sets forth in just a few words an enormous undertaking for IDNR. An undertaking that the agency is not able to fulfill in it’s current state of funding and staff. Essentially a whole new program and all that entails would have to be created.

I say remove the language tasking IDNR with this nonsense of distribution and provision of ammunition. Let us first argue, debate,  and decide if a total lead ban for hunting is appropriate for Illinois hunters. Then, should that even come to pass, hunters would just have to find ammo on their own.

Seriously do we want to have to acquire our ammunition through a DNR program? I think not.

What do you think Heartland Community? Is this a shining example of legislation written by someone who has little knowledge of things actually work? A step towards impairing our ability to hunt? A, I just a crazy grump old broad? (well, I suppose that’s a given!).

Let’s discuss this situation Heartland folks!


Join the First eBird October Big Day this Saturday!

Wed, October 03, 2018

Participate with thousands of other birders this Saturday during the first October Big Day, on October 6, to find and record all the birds you see through eBird. You don’t need to be a bird expert or participate all day long; even birding 30 minutes in your backyard counts. The October Big Day runs from midnight to midnight in your local time zone, and you can report birds from anywhere in the world on eBird, a worldwide bird checklist program used by hundreds of thousands of birders.

On May 5, during the Global Big Day, more than 28,000 people ventured outside in 170 countries, finding 6,899 species, two-thirds of all the world’s bird species in one day, a new world record for birding! With that in mind, a fall event was conceived and the October Big Day was planned.

Why October 6? Because the northern reaches of the world are in the midst of fall migration, and spring is rejuvenating the Southern Hemisphere. No matter where you are, we’re confident you can find some great birds and share them with the world on eBird. Let’s see what we can find together on the first October Big Day!

Each year for the last four years the Global Big Day has set new heights for a single day of birding. This impressive international birding collaboration has been so great we want to have another worldwide eBird Big Day – in October. No matter where you are, we’re confident you can find some great birds on October 6th. Let’s see what we can find together on the first October Big Day!

Regardless of how you celebrate birding on October 6, have fun, enjoy the birds you find, and share your sightings on eBird – because in our world, every bird counts!

For more information about how to participate, see


Creating a Continental Bird Migration Forecast

Sat, September 15, 2018

Exciting news from Cornell University! I’ve been using radar as tool in my waterfowl tool box for a few years now, but this makes it even easier!

Ithaca, N.Y. & Oxford, U.K.—September is the peak of autumn bird migration, and billions of birds are winging their way south in dramatic pulses. A new study published in the journal Science reports that scientists can now reliably predict these waves of bird migration up to seven days in advance. The study details the underlying methods that power migration forecasts, which can be used as a bird conservation tool. To learn more about this or to view real time migration videos, visit

“Most of our songbirds migrate at night, and they pay close attention to the weather,” says study lead author Benjamin Van Doren, a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford and a Cornell University graduate. “Our model converts weather forecasts into bird migration forecasts for the continental United States.”

In this study, the researchers quantified 23 years of spring bird migration across the United States using 143 weather radars, highly sensitive sensors that scientists can use to monitor bird movements. They filtered out precipitation and trained a machine learning model to associate atmospheric conditions with levels of bird migration countrywide. Eighty percent of variation in bird migration intensity was explained by the model.

Nightly migration forecast maps for the United States.  Warmer colors indicate that the model predicts a greater number of migrating birds.  Credit:  Benjamin Van Doren

“The capacity to forecast where and when birds are likely to be flying is instrumental for conservation goals,” says co-author Kyle Horton, a Rose Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Migration forecasts make it possible to reduce human-made threats to migratory birds during a journey that is already fraught with danger. In addition to the energy-depleting journey itself, birds may be thrown off schedule when they become disoriented by city lights. They may crash into tall buildings, cell towers, or power lines. Loss of habitat along their route could mean they don’t have the energy to complete the trip on time or may arrive on their breeding grounds in poor condition, making them unable to breed at all.

In addition to predicting pulses of intense migration, Van Doren and Horton also used the model to estimate nightly migratory movements across the entire country. During peak migration in early May, they say often more than 420 million birds pass overhead each night.

“We used 12 variables to model the distribution of migratory birds across the continent,” explains Van Doren. “Temperature was the most important variable. Migration intensity was greatest on warm nights, probably because warm temperatures generally bring favorable winds and the emergence of leaves and insects.”

The first migration forecast maps based on this research were released to the public earlier this year on the Cornell Lab’s BirdCast website (, where they are updated every six hours. In addition to maps that predict bird movements up to three days ahead, the site also features real-time bird movements based on current weather radar.

“Radars have been illuminating the movement of birds for nearly 75 years—there are still integral discoveries to be made,” notes Horton. “With migration coming into full swing, we’re excited to deliver autumn forecasts for the first time.”

Benjamin M. Van Doren and Kyle G. Horton. A continental system for forecasting bird migration. Science. September 2018. DOI 10.1126/science.aat7526.