IL: Still no clues on state’s 4th duck zone proposal
Collinsville, Ill – Duck hunters across the state are still waiting word on a proposed additional duck hunting zone.
It's been six months since Gov. Pat Quinn formally asked the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to consider granting Illinois "more flexibility in setting future duck hunting seasons for the 2011-15 seasons' to enhance hunting opportunities and help retain and recruit waterfowl hunters.
Federal rules only allow changes in duck hunting zones every five years – and 2011 happens to be a year for change.
DNR Director Marc Miller formally requested that four duck zones – or three zones with a split into two season segments in each zone – be considered in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service one year ago.
Current federal regulations allow states to be split into only three duck hunting zones, or two zones that can be split in two season segments within each zone or one zone that can be split into three season segments in each zone. The elongated geography of Illinois, with 430 miles from north to south, makes timing of waterfowl hunting seasons in the current three-zone configuration more difficult and contentious.
"A fourth zone would help alleviate the conflicts that are arising in Illinois when zones are forced to be too large to accommodate the weather conditions and available wetland habitats in all parts of a duck zone," Quinn wrote back in his July 2010 follow-up proposal letter to the feds.
At the Let's Go Fishing Show in Collinsville earlier this month, a majority of waterfowlers were in favor of the possible fourth zone, which would likely be located in southern Illinois.
Carlyle Lake would likely be affected.
All four Flyway Councils (including both the Upper and Lower Region Regulations Committees of the Mississippi Flyway Council) endorsed allowing states additional options for duck hunting zones for the 2011-15 seasons. The new options would include four zones with no splits, and three zones with splits into two season segments.
The USFWS Service Regulations Committee has reviewed the proposal, but no decision had been made public.