Gretchen Steele

No carp jokes, please – smoked copi dip is a holiday treat

(Bill Key)We’ve been eating invasive carp for a long time at our house. It’s all part of being a river rat and not letting anything go to waste. Consequently, long before DNR launched its rebranding and marketing of invasive carp as Copi, it was a staple in our house. Smoked carp dip is one dish that has always been a…

Cougar confusion in Illinois

(Photo courtesy of Illinois State Police)If you have been following social media or reading the news reports and accompanying comments since mid-October, one would think that Illinois is just crawling with cougars. The current cougar saga began in Illinois when two things occurred. First, IDNR officials announced on October 17 that a  mountain lion (Puma concolor – cougar) was struck…

Pritzker: $17.5 million in funding to renovate Rend Lake Resort

Gov. JB Pritzker announced today that a long-awaited renovation of the popular Rend Lake Resort in Southern Illinois will get underway in 2023 with an investment of more than $17.5 million. The funding will renovate the conference center, restaurant, cabins, pool, and boatel, collectively enabling the resort to host lodging guests, conferences, and other visitors and events. “Rend Lake has…

Just call me a bird nerd

The indigo bunting is one of Illinois’ most colorful and common summer songbirds. (Gretchen Steele)Just call me a bird nerd, I suppose. I don’t think I fall into the hard-core birder category by any means; at best, I am a casual bird watcher. But, I love photographing birds, and my all-time love of waterfowl has led me to be fascinated…

Important work: Natural resources careers abound

Essentially two different natural resources careers in action – a site super and fisheries biologist. (Gretchen Steele)For the f irst time in what seems like years, we are finally starting to see job openings in a multitude of natural resources-related careers. My social media feeds and email inbox has been filled with job opening announcements from state and federal agencies,…

Bully blackbirds and backyard feeders

It’s February and almost time for the Great Backyard Bird Count, so my bird feeders are full. I can easily waste most of a cold winter day watching the colorful songbird activity around the various feeding stations that I have scattered around the backyard. Heck, I even have feeders right outside my office window to distract me from the tasks at…

‘Roundup’ thins out invasive carp

By Gretchen Steele Contributing Writer Baldwin, Ill. — Bowfishers from five states braved tough bowfishing conditions during the second annual Kaskaskia River Rough Fish Round Up held at the Kaskaskia State Fish and Wildlife Area. The tournament was hosted by DNR and was a sanctioned Bowfishing Association of America points tournament. The $1,800 first-place prize money drew both experienced tournament…