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DNR pheasant program faces deadline

April 16, 2008 at 02:33 PM

Standing outside a legislative hearing room Wednesday morning in a khaki-colored work shirt and a Pheasants Forever cap, Kelly Howry looked a wee bit uncomfortable.

But even though Howry probably is more at home in the field than in the halls of government, he said it was important to show his support for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ controlled pheasant-hunting program.

DNR plans to discontinue the program to save money. The controlled pheasant-hunting program relies on captive raised birds that are stocked at special hunting areas at 18 sites around the state.

Supporters of the program say there aren’t enough birds in heavily farmed Illinois to satisfy everyone who wants to hunt pheasants. Pheasant hunters also say not everyone has access to private land or can afford to go to a hunting preserve.

Howry is the habitat chairmen of his local Pheasants Forever chapter in DeWitt County. He said his chapter provides volunteers and financial support for a youth hunt held at Clinton Lake.

Youth hunts at controlled pheasant hunting areas will be discontinued if the program is closed.

“I’m a strong believer in getting them out in the field—out in the timber and out by the creek,” said Howry. “Then you can keep them out of trouble.”

Under the proposal, Clinton Lake is one of 14 sites where the controlled pheasant-hunting program would be closed. Another four sites will stay open, because they buy birds from an outside vendor.

Howry attended a joint House and Senate committee meeting to discuss funds that have not been released for a variety of agricultural and natural resources programs even though they were appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.

Ginger Ostro, director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, said the money has been withheld because tax revenues for fiscal 2008 are falling $750 million short of what was projected.

The pheasant program cuts actually would take place in fiscal 2009, but supporters of the program say DNR faces an early to mid-May deadline to begin raising pheasants for fall.

“We’re going to lose the season by default and inaction,” says Jerry Rodeen, a member of Phesants Forever’s national board of directors.

He said controlled hunting areas provide good first experiences for young hunters since they have a reasonable chance at success.

“They are the only places these young men and women can hunt and be assured of a good shot,” he said.

Rep. Dan Reitz, D-Sparta, said he doesn’t see any real cost savings to the state if the pheasant program is discontinued.

Operating three propagation facilities, including one at Lincoln, costs about $1.3 million. About two-thirds of the expense is staff - 13 positions in all. The $15 fee paid by hunters (on top of their hunting license and habitat stamp) more than covers the other one-third, about $400,000 to $450,000.

The employees are to be reassigned to other duties, so Reitz says closing the program won’t really save any money.

“The numbers I have seen, (the controlled pheasant-hunting program) is a money-maker for DNR,” he said. “I really think doing away with this program makes no sense at all.”

Reitz said the program could generate more revenue by hiking the fee to $25 and then by $5 more every three years.

Rodeen said pheasant hunters likely would be willing to pay more to hunt.

“Sportsmen and women have always been willing to pay their way,” he said. “We should raise the fee (from $15) to $25 and put in a cost-of-living escalator so we don’t have to go through this crisis again.”

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“cost of living escalator” I need this guys job. Nothings escalating in my home. Gas prices going through the roof. Super high utility bills. Health insurance costs are sky high. I’m stuck on the down escalator…....Why do we need to raise the prices if it is self sustaining? Does the gov. need a driveway heater at his residence also?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/16 at 04:13 PM

Yea, I need one of them there escalators on my pay check!

What are they doing with all the Federal Funds from the “Pittman-Robertson tax act? Lic fees, habitat stamps, permits, taxes etc….???

O yea,I forgot 3/4 million for Blagos heated driveway.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/16 at 06:25 PM

Just another ploy by the Blago adminstration to rape all of us as hunters and take away more of our rights.  I will be glad to pay $25 to pheasant hunt as long as the money goes back into the DNR funds and not into some BS pet project our blowhard governor has come up with.  Peoria Journal Star reported Blago had wanted to run for President someday.  Hell he can’t even run a state let alone a country.  Imagine him as a President.  GAS $7.50 a gallon and he would be flying back and forth to Chicago to see his mistress at our cost. Glad to see the Recall rolling forward.  Lets start with his Butt.  Can you tell I hate this guy and his boys.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/16 at 09:52 PM

you guys need to listen up…this controlled pheasant hunt is there for anyone who purchases the permit and has a hunting license.  the program is fully paid by the hunting license and permit fees and there is 0 tax dollars put towards this fine program.  those fine chicago ladies who have the ear of their congressman are simply trying another round-about-way to get at us outdoorsman….cutting out more of our opportunities….how many of you used to be able to knock on the farm door and get permission to hunt in the afternoon?  how many of you have that opportunity now?  or are you stuck in your lease?  so, we’ve all but lost the opportunity for knocking on doors, and now we’re stuck with driving to SD, ND and kansas or a lease, and they’re going to take this opportunity away from us too. if you have bird dogs, pointing and flushing these birds is really enjoyable and provides a very real experience….considering that gas will be $4/gallon this Fall, would you rather drive to North Dakota, SD, or Kansas or 40 miles down the road to Lincoln or wayne fitzgerald.  i’m telling you, you’ve got to stand up for this, or this cherry will be gone.  i ditto shedhead - increase the permit fee, if necessary, and only if that total permit fee gets back to DNR.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/17 at 10:48 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed myself this past season with at least 20 days hunting while also camping (more money) in the state park at the same time. Not to mention the money I spent in town as well. I’m not the only one that uses all the facillities as it seems like I kept seeing the same faces every morning at check in. If the state wants to double the fees you can bet I’ll be using private preserves and as a result taking my money elsewhere. As everyone else should, too.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/22 at 09:31 PM

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