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Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Did spring arrive in one day?

March 02, 2008 at 08:18 PM

The thermometer said 67 degrees today in Decatur and the skies around us everywhere said spring.

Mallards were pairing up in little coves of Lake Decatur’s Sand Creek basin, basking in the sun and watching the ice melt steadily. Geese were mobbed in the lake, but pairs slipped away here and there, chasing off any who dared follow them.

On the drive home from Decatur I saw male red-winged blackbirds staking out their road-side territories.

And once home in Elmwood I heard flocks of snow geese passing overhead in the dark sky while down the street a barred owl hooted.

Meanwhile the e-mail brought report after report about migrating sandhill cranes and northern shrikes and robins and a whole mass of spring birds that we’ve missed for months.

Birds are back. And mating. Or migrating. And in the blink of an eye it feels like spring. It’s not, of course. Given the way this winter has gone we’ll probably see snow again. Or at least cold weather.

But for one glorious day, it was wonderful to be outside. Certainly the birds agreed.

Story and comments

Wild Things 3-2-08

March 02, 2008 at 03:51 AM


Current number of whooping cranes in the wild.

Wolf-like canine shot

A wolf-like canine was shot by a coyote hunter in northwest Illinois near Lena on Feb. 19. The animal looks “very much like a wolf” according to Glen Kruse, natural heritage division chief for the Department of Natural Resources.

But the animal weighed close to 145 pounds — large for a Midwestern wolf. Samples were sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for genetic testing.

The last confirmed timber wolf in Illinois was killed in December of 2005 in Pike County by Seth Hall, who was hunting coyotes near New Canton.

Whoopers on the move

Sure it’s cold and snowy out, but three whooping cranes in the eastern flock have already started their migration back north.

Overall this has been a good year for whoopers, as their population has finally topped 500. That includes birds in captivity and in the wild western and eastern flocks.

Flood potential greater

Echoing something everyone familiar with the Illinois River has already seen, a study shows flood peaks in the Chicago area have increased.

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant study said from 1954 to 1999, urbanization in 12 Chicago watersheds increased from 11 percent to 62 percent. And the 10 largest historical storms in the past 100 years have all come since 1950. The study concludes estimated flood peaks need to be revisited.

Deer task force set

Plans are moving forward for a new Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control that is set to meet April 14. Makeup of the task force includes mostly politicians — including Sen. Gary Dahl, R-Peru — along with representatives of the Illinois Insurance Association, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois federation for Outdoor resources and the
United Bowhunters of Illinois.

There is no biologist on the task force, which is charged with making recommendations on managing the Illinois deer herd by Jan. 1, 2009.

Little snappers growing

Some alligator snapping turtle hatchlings that have spent the past 16 months at the Peoria Zoo should be ready for release into the wild by the spring of 2009.

Alligator snapping turtles are an endangered species in Illinois and plans call for an ongoing project to raise and release hatchlings into the wild.

Most of the 300 hatchlings have grown well since arriving at Peoria in November of 2006, increasing from 14-16 grams to 91 to 275 grams.

The Peoria Zoo has also received 11 alligator snappers from other zoos.

To reduce the odds of losing all the snappers at one location, about 200 turtles have been moved to Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery near Topeka.

Critter corner

In the wilds of Illinois in March ...

Opossums, coyotes, flying squirrels, muskrats, chorus frogs and skunks breed.

Chipmunks end hibernation.

Resident Canada geese nest.

Rabbits bear first litters.

Turkey vultures and bluebirds return.

Prairie chickens start booming.

Red maples bloom.

Pheasants start crowing.

Sandhill cranes migrate.

This ‘n that

Argyle Lake has a lottery drawing for boat slips today at 1 p.m. Call (309) 776-3422.

... Reports out of the Bassmaster Classic are that Strike King’s Shaddalicious plastic swim bait was the show’s hot seller.

... Starting April 1, crappie anglers at Lake Shelbyville can keep five crappie under 10 inches in addition to 10 crappie over 10 inches.

Story and comments

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