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Heartland Outdoors

Audubon Society buys 395 acres in Lee County

Wed, December 21, 2016

Springfield, IL— Illinois Audubon Society has purchased 395 acres of the former Green Wing Environmental Laboratory from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. The parcel is located within two miles of the Society’s Amboy Marsh Nature Preserve and provides an opportunity to further expand critical habitat that was once part of the magnificent 100,000-plus acre complex of wetlands in Lee County called Inlet and Winnebago Swamps.

The $2.1 million purchase was made possible through a land acquisition grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (Chicago, Illinois), long-time Society member Russell Gremel, and Illinois Audubon’s land acquisition fund. The land will be dedicated in early 2017 as the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary: a Legacy Project of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Gremel hopes that generations of young land stewards and bird enthusiasts will now be able to visit and enjoy the sanctuary. Public access will be encouraged upon completion of a parking area off Lewis Road.

“We are truly grateful to both of these generous partners for coming together to give this land protection story a happy ending,” says Jim Herkert, Executive Director of Illinois Audubon Society. Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation also awarded the Society $125,878 for wetland restoration costs through their Advancing Wetlands Conservation grant.

Green Wing Environmental Laboratory contains a mix of shallow sand ponds and remnant black oak sand forest/savanna along with a large wet meadow of excellent quality. The parcel has received little natural area management for more than 25 years.

“It will be our goal to protect and restore representative examples of intact native ecosystems and unique natural features that still persist today,” explains site steward Deb Carey. To complete this large undertaking, the Society will rely on some of the same stewards who care for the nearby Amboy Marsh Nature Preserve. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation notes that the work of these stewards was one of the deciding factors in awarding a $1.6 million grant to the Society.

“We continue to be impressed with the thought and care that these dedicated volunteers and the staff of Illinois Audubon Society put into their work at Amboy Marsh,” says Dennis O’Brien, Executive Director of the Foundation. “It is clear that the Society takes the promise of permanent protection very seriously and the Foundation looks forward to seeing a similar commitment to the care of the natural habitat at the soon to be dedicated Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary.”

Purchased for its significant ecological value, the sanctuary provides habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals and offers opportunities for continued site-based research and education through a partnership with Augustana College. Initial inventories include 197 bird species and 418 species of plants.

“I am looking forward to the future partnership between Augustana College and Illinois Audubon Society that will create meaningful field-based and applied learning experiences for students and faculty in the sciences and liberal arts, and generate collaborative programs and community outreach activities to the public in northern Illinois,” stated Dr. Stephen B. Hager, Professor of Biology at the college. The college is retaining an adjacent 15 acres which include field station buildings and a donor-sponsored restored prairie.

The mission of the Illinois Audubon Society is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of native plants and animals and the habitats that support them. The Society is an independent, member supported, not-for-profit, statewide organization. Founded in 1897, the Society is Illinois’ oldest private conservation organization with 2,200 members, 18 chapters and 19 affiliate groups. The Illinois Audubon Society has invested $10.9 million into land and water conservation throughout Illinois, protected 3,895 acres.

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Youth goose hunt applications due Dec. 30

Tue, December 20, 2016

Youth interested in participating in the annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, sponsored by the IDNR, can register now for the hunt, which is scheduled for Jan. 15-16, 2017.

To register for a drawing to participate in the hunt, phone 217-785-8060 by the registration deadline of Friday, Dec. 30. 

The youth goose hunt will be held at private waterfowl hunting clubs in the Canton area in Fulton Co. A lottery drawing involving all youth who phone in to register will be conducted on January 3, 2017, and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing. The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.

All applicants must possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman’s license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20-gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card.

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Apply now for ICF conservation scholarship

Thu, December 15, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Applications are now being accepted by the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) for the 2017 Conservation Achievement Scholarship program.  The ICF annually awards scholarships to outstanding high school seniors in Illinois who demonstrate effective, voluntary, long-term dedication to the preservation, protection or enhancement of the state’s natural resources.  Up to three scholarships of $2,000 each are available for the current school year. 

“Over the years, the ICF’s Conservation Achievement Scholarship program has awarded nearly $100,000 to help further the education of young people who have shown interest in being our future conservation leaders,” said Wayne Rosenthal, chairman of the Illinois Conservation Foundation Board of Directors and Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “This scholarship program recognizes outstanding natural resources stewardship efforts by high school students from throughout Illinois.” 

The ICF Conservation Achievement Scholarships have been awarded since 2005. Applicants must be an Illinois resident and a senior in an Illinois high school.  Applications must be received by the ICF by January 15, 2017.

Detailed instructions and the 2017 application form can be accessed through the ICF website at:
http://www.ilcf.org/portal/sponsorship-opportunities

Please contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation at 217-785-2003 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information or to make a donation to support the Conservation Achievement Scholarship program.

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Pheasant quota increased at Jim Edgar

Tue, December 06, 2016

Daily hunter quotas have been increased on the Controlled Pheasant Hunting Unit at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area in Cass Co. beginning Dec. 7 and extending to the close of the hunting season on Jan. 15.

Hunters are encouraged to use the online Controlled Pheasant Hunting Reservation System to secure permits.  Reserved Permits ensure hunters will have the opportunity to hunt, and ensure that the number of pheasants released is appropriate for the number of hunters participating each day.  Standby permits are also available at the site hunter check station for each hunt date through Dec. 31, although standby hunting opportunities are limited.  After Dec. 31, standby permits will not be available for the remaining hunt dates at Jim Edgar Panther Creek.

To access the on-line reservation system:
Click on the “Hunt/Trap” button on the IDNR Home Page at www.dnr.illinois.gov
Then click on “Upland Game”
Then under the heading “Licenses and Permits” click on “Controlled Pheasant Hunting Areas and Permit”

Hunters are reminded that the daily permit fee for controlled pheasant hunting is $30 for resident hunters and $35 for nonresident hunters each hunt date.  The daily permit fee applies to each hunter.  Hunters are further reminded that young hunters 17 and under hunt for free on Sat., Dec. 31 when accompanied by a paid adult hunter.  Each young hunter must be accompanied by an adult hunter.  Hunters should use the “Youth Opportunity Dates Only” application on the Controlled Pheasant Hunting website to bring a young hunter for free on Dec. 31.

For complete details, access the controlled pheasant hunting website at www.dnr.illinois.gov

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Iowa shotgun deer preview

Tue, November 29, 2016

The first of Iowa’s popular shotgun deer seasons is December 3-7 when an expected 75,000 orange clad hunters head to the timber. That group will be followed by 50,000 hunters who prefer the December 10-18 second gun season.

Each contingent will also pack along thousands of antlerless tags, to extend their time in the field.

Fans of cold weather purchase about 40,000 tags for the December 19-January 10 late muzzleloader season.

Iowa’s shotgun seasons allow for group drives; drivers pushing deer toward blockers. Anyone in the group may tag a downed deer—with their own tag. That stands in contrast to other states—-and even Iowa’s more solitary muzzleloader and bow seasons. However, it has proven to be an efficient method for taking deer, since modern deer hunting was introduced here in the early 1950s. Whatever the season, any deer must be tagged before it is moved or within 15 minutes—whichever comes first.

It also holds the potential for danger, as drivers move closer to, or across, their friends on a drive.

That’s why wearing solid blaze orange is mandatory. The minimum amount covers a hunter’s torso. But more is better.

For several years now, deer hunters have noticed fewer whitetails than in the early 2000s. That is by design. A decade ago, state lawmakers instructed the DNR to reduce the deer population, after steady growth through the previous few decades.

With addition of county and season specific antlerless tags, generous quotas, and a couple extra seasons, near Thanksgiving and during January, hunters responded.  Adaptive regulation changes have lowered the deer herd to mid-1990s target levels, in all but a handful of counties.

Hunters in 27 north central and northwest counties have no county antlerless tags and may take only antlered deer during the first shotgun season.

Iowa’s overall deer harvest across all seasons last year was 105,401, down 30 percent from the 2006 peak and the 2016 harvest should be similar.  The 2014 harvest was estimated at 101,595.

“Now is a good time for the DNR to work with hunters and landowners to help develop a better understanding of proper deer management; including the benefits of harvesting does and keeping deer numbers at ecologically acceptable levels,” stresses Andrew Norton, state deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  “Hunters working with landowners at the local level are the best and most efficient way to keep deer numbers acceptable and provide a high quality deer herd.”

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Special hunt at Savanna

Fri, November 25, 2016

SAVANNA, Ill. — Warm temperatures and bright sunshine welcomed 60 hunters earlier this month during a special deer hunt at Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Illinois.

Field surveys showed the deer population was high and the rutting season was at its peak. Quadriplegics, paraplegics, amputees and other physically challenged hunters harvested 29 deer that included 15 does and 14 bucks. The largest buck, a 3 1/2 year old 10 pointer with field dressed weight of 191 pounds was taken by Florida resident Wendell Hurst.

Included in the participants was Charles Melton from Richview, Illinois. Melton earned a silver medal in the summer para-Olympics in Rio as a member of the American rugby team. He also is an avid basketball player and has hunted deer at Lost Mound for several years.

This deer hunt has gained national attention with hunters traveling from nine states. States other than Illinois represented were Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The Lost Mound deer hunt began in 2008 and has 35 sites located in areas that are closed to public access due to ongoing environmental clean-up at this former military installation, Savanna Army Depot. Hunters must meet the Illinois Class P-2a disability certification that requires a physical disability of a permanent nature that renders a person unable to walk 200 feet or more unassisted by another person or without the aid of a walker, crutches, wheelchair, or other device. Each hunter has an able-bodied attendant that can also hunt.

Disabled individuals can harvest three deer and attendants can harvest two deer.

Lost Mound Site Manager Alan Anderson was excited about the continued success of this program.

“It is a unique hunting experience by a special group of hunters,” Anderson said. “Their daily challenges of life were overshadowed by the enthusiasm and determination for deer hunting. They provided both inspiration and encouragement to the staff and volunteers that administered the hunt.”

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Register now for youth goose hunt

Tue, November 22, 2016

Youth interested in participating in the annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), can register now for the hunt, which is scheduled for January 15-16, 2017.

To register for a drawing to participate in the hunt, youth hunters must phone in to the IDNR at 217-785-8060 by the registration deadline of Friday, December 30, 2018.  The youth goose hunt will be held at private waterfowl hunting clubs in the Canton area in Fulton Co.
                                                                                               
A lottery drawing involving all youth who phone in to register will be conducted on January 3, 2017, and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing.

The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.  All applicants must possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman’s license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20 gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card.

To register for the hunt or for more information, call 217-785-8060.

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