As first reported in the Sun-Times on Jan. 13, the IDNR was being pressured again by big shooter watefowlers to request four waterfowl zones. That request has formally been made. Letter to be posted shortly.
Here is the text of the letter:
Assistant Director, Migratory Birds
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Main Interior Building
1849 C Street NW, Room 3256
Washington, D.C. 20240, USA
Dear Assistant Director Schmidt:
February 8, 2010
Pat Quinn, Governor
Man: Miller, Director
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources requests that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service consider changes to the current zone/split gUidelines for the 2011-2015 duck seasons. Specifically we request consideration for another option
that would allow states to use up to 4 zones for duck hunting. Illinois, with a north-to-south axis over 430 miles long, is a physiographically and climatologically diverse state. Setting duck hunting seasons that will accommodate hunting for a variety of duck species (early vs. late migrants) and hunting styles (i.e. marshes, fields, rivers, etc.) is not possible with the
current suite of zone options. The constraints on hunter preferences imposed by the rules governing the establishment of duck zones have led to lower hunter satisfaction in many parts of Illinois.
The new emphasis on human dimensions that was discussed at the Waterfowl Policy Summit held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2008 highlights the importance of this request. At the conclusion of the Summit, a significant majority of participants agreed that two key recommendations born in Summit discussions should be pursued as immediate next steps: 1) A group or venue should be created to continue the work of the Human Dimensions Working Group (94 percent agreed or strongly agreed); and 2) The NAWMP update should be used to develop more coherent goals for waterfowl harvest and habitat management (88 percent agreed or strongly agreed). Service Director Hall gave his unambiguous endorsement of the two key recommendations and urged the waterfowl management community to move forward with the expectation of leadership and support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working in concert with their Canadian counterparts. A summary of the Summit recommendations is attached.
If we are truly interested in satisfying, retaining and recruiting duck hunters, all avenues of increasing hunter satisfaction should be considered. We understand the Service's desire to control the proliferation of duck zones and splits but there is no evidence that allowing a fourth zone will have a significant impact on duck populations. For the most part, duck populations have done well since liberal seasons started in 1995 and it is hard to understand what effect adding another zone would have on duck populations when long seasons have not appeared to be deleterious. We urge the Service to undertake a detailed review of this issue in the new supplemental environmental impact study being written for the sport hunting of migratory game birds. Attached please find a summary of the history of this issue since 1999 with supporting rationale for adding a new option for duck zones. We also support allowing 3 zones WITh the option to split the season in each zone for states that might prefer this method to satisfy their hunters. In light of the fact that the Service denied similar requests in 1999,2000 and 2006 we are interested in leaming if the Service will consider granting states additional zone/split options for 2011-2015.
[Signed by Marc Miller]
cc: Robert Blohm
James R. Kelly, Jr.