Hunters advised to avoid baiting
Anna, Ill. — Teal hunters have enjoyed plenty of shooting in their brief season – especially in southern Illinois, where both green-wings and blue-wings have been plentiful.
But the upcoming regular duck season has those same hunters a bit anxious.
This summer’s drought dried up many ponds and water holes, leaving fewer places for ducks and geese to land and feed. Before early September rains provided some relief, Lake Mermet Site Superintendent Chris McGinness said the site needed rain in order to flood their fields.
“We normally flood on top of moisture. We’ll wait for a large rain to come in, and then we’ll flood on top of that,” McGinness said.
Gary McCree, owner of Goose Master’s Place Hunting Club in Zeigler, said he is concerned with the lack of farm crops in southern Illinois fields.
“There’s not as much food in the refuges, [so] they may spend more time flying up and down the river bottoms looking for food,” he told WSIL TV.
Meanwhile, DNR sent out an advisory earlier this month warning hunters about how drought conditions could create illegal baiting situations.
“Some farmers are mowing or tilling their unharvested crop fields to collect crop insurance payments,” the DNR advisory explained. “DNR reminds hunters that the manipulation, including mowing or tilling, of unharvested crop fields is not a normal agricultural practice for waterfowl hunting purposes.”
DNR officials sought out and received guidance on the issue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. What they learned is that federal baiting laws apply during times of drought.
“Therefore, it is a violation of the baiting laws under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act if scattered grain is not totally removed 10 days prior to hunting,” DNR advised. The advisory also included a series of “Frequently Asked Questions” about waterfowl baiting laws. A sample of those FAQs:
- If a standing grain crop is 100 percent void of any ears (corn field produced no ears), can the field be mowed then hunted? Yes, as long as there is no grain present in the field.
- If a standing grain crop has any amount of grain present after it is mowed, can it be hunted? No, it is a “baited area” until 10 days after the complete removal of the grain.
- Can a standing crop that was mowed be disked and made legal for hunting? The field can only be hunted after all exposed grain has been removed or buried for a period of 10 days.
Information on federal baiting laws can be found at http://www.fws.gov/le/waterfowl-hunting-and-baiting.html.