Monday was Conservation Day at the Illinois State Fair on Monday and Gov. Bruce Rauner used the day to sign into law four bills that will expand hunting and fishing in Illinois.

A press release from the governor’s office said the four measures make 'common sense' adjustments to Illinois conservation laws. The new measures will allow the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to:

more efficiently do their job of protecting Illinois’ lands and wildlife. In addition, SB 2410 extends the youth licenses program to further invest in our young people who are passionate about the great outdoors.

Rauner calls himself an "avid hunter and fisherman."  Rauner's press release details each of the four measures signed into law on Monday.

SB 2410 extends the youth license program from just hunting and fishing to trapping. Young hunters age 18 and under may apply for a Youth Trapping License. The youth must still abide by all wildlife laws and codes, and must be accompanied by and under the close supervision of a parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older and has a valid Illinois trapping license. The bill will help maintain young hunters who throughout their lifetime will contribute to the conservation effort through purchases of licenses, stamps and other fees. This model of conservation has been successful for more than 100 years, and young hunters and anglers are the key to its continued success.

HB 5788 adds catfish to the list of aquatic life that may be taken by bowfishing. This means catfish taken by anglers using bowfishing equipment will be allowed to be kept and utilized by anglers. Daily limits and other rules can be set by the Department through administrative rule rather than by statute. Putting these limits under the discretion of the Department gives them more authority to access and conserve local populations.

HB 4604 allows the Department of Natural Resources to permit hunters to take bobwhite quail, chukar partridge and gray partridge on public hunting grounds. The Department can set the hunting season for game birds by administrative rule between the dates of September 1st and March 31st.

SB 3003 allows the Department to offer free landowner permits for both deer and turkey as long as the landowner has 40 acres or more. The proposal would combine the application for both deer and turkey. It requires the Department to hold a youth turkey season for two consecutive weekends, instead of the current one weekend. It also reduces the amount of staff time spent verifying that free landowner permits are going to eligible landowners and by increasing the youth season to two weekends, the Department reduces conflicts with Spring holiday weekends.

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