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Governor Quinn requests a fourth duck hunting zone


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently forwarded their recommendations for the 2011 Illinois Waterfowl Season to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for final approval.  


The state is recommending the following:


OPENING DAY:


North Zone - October 16, 2010 

Central Zone - October 30, 2010

South Zone - November 25, 2010


The proposed duck season will be 60 day duck season in the North, Central and South Zone, and an 85 day Canada goose season in the North and Central Zones; with a 66 day Canada goose season in the South Zone.  

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is also seeking the approval of a fourth duck hunting zone for the 2011-2015 seasons to enhance hunting opportunities and retain and recruit more waterfowl hunters.  “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,” Governor Quinn wrote to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.


Because Illinois is 430 miles long from top to bottom, it has been difficult to assess the weather conditions to be able to appropriate season dates with only the three current zones (North, Central and South).  Last year was tough for waterfowl hunters.  When duck season opened in the North Zone in mid-October, the weather was too warm and a large population of ducks did not migrate as anticpated.  It was not until the end of the season that we had a cold snap, and hunters only had a few days of late flying birds.  Even with that, open water was too random amidst the frozen waterways, so huntable access was limited.


Current federal regulations allow only three zones per state that may be split into segments.  If the propose fourth season is not allowed in Illinois, would duck hunting begin to decline?  What beneficial or negative effect would granting Illinois a fourth duck hunting zone have on other states?   


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