Pheasants

In Springfield, pheasant rumors are flying en masse – pun mostly
intended.

The April 4 issue of Illinois Outdoor News features a news story
explaining Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s desire to ditch the state’s
controlled pheasant hunting program. The story also touches on the
uproar the governor’s decision is creating among the state’s
hunters. The reason is simple: in a state where pheasant hunting
opportunities are rare, the program has become quite popular.

Problem is, no one with the state has officially addressed the
issue, even though the governor’s office seems to have already made
up its mind.

Today, I was forwarded this e-mail from DNR spokeswoman Paris
Ervin, which apparently will be DNR’s official statement, if and
when it ever makes one regarding the issue: “While the Department
recognizes the popularity and importance of the program
unfortunately we may not be able to continue it at this time given
the financial situation in the state and nation. With projected
revenues falling nearly 750 million dollars below expectations we
are faced with making difficult decisions. The discontinuation of
the Pheasant hunting program is a proposal and we are willing to
work with the GA to find a way to keep the program.”

The Department is proposing to discontinue the Controlled
Pheasant Hunting Program. Under the proposal, the production of
pheasants at the agency’s three wildlife propagation centers will
be discontinued for this year. The 59,628 pheasants required for
the 14 controlled pheasant hunting areas operated by the Department
and for the Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt for the 2008-09 hunting
season will not be available.”

Huh? Just like that (fingers snapping)?

Last week, Eric Lane, issues development staffer for House
Speaker Michael Madigan, e-mailed me to say that more than 75
hunters showed up at a March 26 budget hearing in Belleville to
protest Gov. Blagojevich’s cutting of the pheasant program. Lane
said that due to the turnout, his office was hoping to conduct
additional outreach in the state to hear from more hunters.

Stay tuned . . . .

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