SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed the Illinois Hunting Heritage Protection Act (Senate Bill 2156), which provides that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources support, promote and enhance recreational hunting on lands it manages, and work to maintain and enhance the amount of land acreage available for hunting opportunities in Illinois.
“This new law recognizes the important role hunters and trappers play in conserving wildlife, habitats and the ecosystems on which wildlife depend, while at the same enjoying a form of outdoor recreation that has been part of our state’s heritage from its founding,” Governor Blagojevich said. “Recreational hunting is perhaps the most important component of effective wildlife management, and this legislation helps remind us of the importance of our hunting heritage.”
Sponsored by Sen. John O. Jones (D-Mt. Vernon) and Rep. William J. Grunloh (D-Effingham), SB 2156 requires that lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources be open to access and use of recreational hunting, except when limited for reasons of public safety, fish and wildlife management, homeland security, or where otherwise limited by law. The legislation also requires that the Department support, promote, and enhance recreational hunting and, to the greatest extent possible, not take actions which result in any net loss of land available to hunting.
The new law also requires that the Department report annually whether any acreage it manages is closed to hunting and whether other lands are opened to hunting to compensate.
“We are always looking for ways to expand public access to hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation. One of our duties as a wildlife management and natural resources agency is to recognize, preserve, and promote our special heritage of recreational hunting and trapping and this new law supports that,” said Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold.
The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2005.