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IDNR Sets Health and Safety Procedures for Deer Hunting at State Sites

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced changes to 2020-2021 deer hunting procedures at state sites. The changes, health and safety protocols implemented in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will provide greater protection to both the hunting public and site staff during the season.

Hunters should follow all public health guidelines issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health, including wearing masks when social distancing cannot be achieved and refraining from congregating in parking lot areas. Through responsible actions, hunters can help ensure that site hunting programs continue to offer Illinoisans healthy outdoor recreation opportunities.

The following changes in regulations will apply to IDNR sites participating in the deer hunting program:

1. No standby deer hunting will occur on state sites for the 2020-2021 hunting seasons. Deer hunting during the Firearm, Muzzleloading Rifle, CWD, and Late Winter Deer Seasons on state sites where special permits are issued through the regular statewide drawing will be limited to those persons already in possession of a site permit at the beginning of the season. In the past, standby drawings were held to fill unmet quotas or allow additional hunters to go afield once others had harvested deer. These drawings often resulted in crowded conditions at site offices. 

Sites impacted include: Argyle Lake State Park, Big River State Forest, Castle Rock State Park, Chain O'Lakes State Park, Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area, Franklin Creek State Natural Area, Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area/Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area, Green River State Wildlife Area, Horseshoe Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area (Alexander  Co.), Iroquois County State Conservation Area, Jubilee College State Park, Kaskaskia River Fish and Wildlife Area, Lowden-Miller State Forest, Mackinaw River State Fish and Wildlife Area, Marseilles Fish and Wildlife Area, Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area, Mississippi Palisades State Park, Moraine Hills State Park, Morrison-Rockwood State Park, Rock Cut State Park, Starved Rock State Park, White Pines Forest State Park, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area.

2. Check-In, Check-Out, and Harvest Reporting procedures will be modified for the 2020-2021 hunting seasons to eliminate crowding and maintain social distancing.  On state sites where hunters are required to check in, check out, and report their deer harvest on-site, IDNR site staff will implement changes to keep IDNR employees and hunters safe.  Modifications will include either: a) a drive-through check-in/check-out procedure in which hunters remain in their vehicle for the entire process or b) an unstaffed check station where hunters park and sign themselves in and out and report harvest. Upon arriving on-site, hunters should report to the normal check station and follow instructions as posted or as given by site staff. The 5:00 a.m. check-in time will be waived; hunters need only check in before going afield. Note: On many sites, self check-in and check-out procedures are already in place – on these sites, hunters will continue to follow the normal routine as posted. 

Sites impacted include: Anderson Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Argyle Lake State Park, Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area, Big River State Forest, Buffalo Rock State Park/Blackball Mines Nature Preserve, Cache River State Natural Area, Cape Bend State Fish and Wildlife Area, Chain O'Lakes State Park, Cypress Pond State Natural Area, Deer Pond State Natural Area, Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area, Dublin Highlands Pheasant Habitat Area, Ferne Clyffe State Park, Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, George S. Park Memorial Woods State Natural Area, Giant City State Park, Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area/Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area, Horseshoe Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area (Alexander Co.), Iroquois County State Wildlife Area, Jubilee College State Park, Kaskaskia River Fish and Wildlife Area, Kinkaid Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Lincoln Trail State Park, Little Rock Creek State Habitat Area, Mackinaw River State Fish and Wildlife Area, Marseilles Fish and Wildlife Area, Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area, Mazonia/Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area, Miller-Anderson Woods State Natural Area, Mitchell's Grove State Nature Preserve, Moraine Hills State Park, Morrison Rockwood State Park, Mt. Vernon Propagation Center, Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area, Randolph County State Recreation Area, Rend Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Sam Parr State Park, Sandy Ford State Natural Area, Sangchris Lake State Park, Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area, Skinner Farm State Habitat Area, Starved Rock State Park, Trail of Tears State Forest, Turkey Bluffs State Fish and Wildlife Area, Union County State Fish and Wildlife Area, Washington County State Recreation Area.

3. The procedure for Special Hunts for Disabled Hunters will be modified for the 2020-2021 deer hunting seasons. Interested hunters should contact the appropriate site office for more information regarding disabled hunt permit applications and deadlines. Disabled hunters must possess a Class P2A disability card in order to be eligible for the drawing. Hunters are strongly  encouraged to bring a non-hunting partner. Hunters selected for these opportunities will be contacted in advance of the hunt by IDNR site staff to arrange for payment of permit and selection of blind or hunting location, if applicable. For protection of the hunting public and IDNR staff, those hunters requesting transportation to/from their hunting location or assistance with removing harvested deer from the field will be required to undergo a COVID-19 screening and wear a face covering, unless they have a medical exemption.  This screening will include answering a brief survey and submitting to a temperature check.

Sites impacted include: Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, Horseshoe Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area (Alexander Co.), Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area, Jubilee College State Park, Rock Cut State Park, Spoon River State Forest, Starved Rock State Park, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area, Wolf Creek State Park.

4. There will be no in-person drawings/assignments for blind locations or hunting zones/areas. On state sites where permitted hunters are assigned to a specific zone, area, or location within the site, site staff will select hunting locations for all hunters prior to the start of the hunting season and notify hunters of their assignment by mail or upon arrival at the check station. There will be no traditional zone or area selection gatherings, which could result in hunters gathering in large groups. 

Sites impacted include: Chain O’Lakes State Park, Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area, Moraine Hills State Park, Newton Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Starved Rock State Park.

5. Mandatory in-person, pre-season orientation meetings will be suspended for the 2020-2021 deer hunting seasons. In lieu of these meetings, hunters may be provided with relevant site orientation or safety information before the beginning of the season by mail.  Alternatively, sites may post, or provide hunters with, necessary orientation or safety information upon check-in on the first morning of the hunt.

Sites impacted include: Castle Rock State Park, Chain O’Lakes State Park, Jubilee College State Park, Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area, Moraine Hills State Park, Newton Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Starved Rock State Park.

10/20/2020