CHAMPAIGN, Ill., 5/4/21: Whether it’s for hunting or fishing, the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) collects data and provides information and education to support hunters and anglers in exploring Illinois and its many biological resources. Here are a few INHS programs and links related to your favorite outdoor recreation activities.
Let’s go fishing!
The I Fish Illinois website offers all the information anglers need to prepare for and enjoy a successful fishing season: learn about places to fish, fishing with the family, fishing programs, licensing regulations, fish stocking, and much more.
The I Fish Illinois website is the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries site, with information managed by INHS. The goal of the website is to make information easily accessible to anglers while promoting sport fishing opportunities to the public.
Specifically, at www.ifishillinois.org, you’ll find:
- Information about Illinois sport fish, including angling tips and areas for greatest success
- Fishing reports
- Profiles of fishable lakes and rivers throughout Illinois
- Improved maps that include contour details and bathymetry data for our most visited lakes, as well as access points, ramps, and major roads
- Fishing forecasts provided by IDNR biologists
- Family-friendly and bank fishing opportunities
- IDNR fishing programs
- Fish stocking events by waterbody
The “contact us” feedback form continues to connect Illinois anglers directly with project personnel to ask questions related to fishing, boating, and regulations in Illinois.
Fishes of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers
Anglers up and down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers can learn about fish species and long-term trends as biologists at the INHS Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) have monitored fish populations in three six-week sampling windows from June 15 to October 31 annually.
The Long-Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program has collected fish community data on the La Grange Reach of the Illinois River since 1993. Fish community sampling for the LTRM program results in approximately 360 samples and 50,000 fish per year. Data taken for fish species include species identification, length, weight, and any abnormalities or deformities. The program’s purpose is to determine trends of all species from collection sites and learn how fish populations have changed over time.
The LTRM Graphical Fisheries Database Browser provides thousands of graphical and tabular data summaries of fish community observations. This resource is used to identify and prioritize river management activities, generate research on the status and trends of freshwater fish, or just to figure out how a favored species is doing in an area before planning a recreational fishing trip.
The most recent report on status and trends of select sportfish species is available at http://hdl.handle.net/2142/107152.
Biologists at IRBS in the Long-Term Survey and Assessment of Large River Fishes (LTEF) program also survey fish species from June through October on the entire Illinois River and select reaches of the Mississippi River. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources uses these data dating back to 1957 to manage recreational fish populations.
The latest summary report is available at http://hdl.handle.net/2142/107797.
For more information and updates, visit the IRBS website.
Waterfowl in flight
Waterfowl abundance estimates from various sites are in high demand from September to early January as hunters determine where to find the best locations for their sport. Each Monday during the season (weather permitting), a pilot and biologist from the Forbes Biological Station fly surveys to estimate the number of ducks and geese that are found in local areas, covering over 214 miles of the Illinois River and 272 miles of the central Mississippi River.
The biologist estimates waterfowl numbers from a fixed-wing aircraft during the first pass at a location and determines the types of species present on the second pass. The INHS waterfowl data are posted weekly in the fall at https://forbes-bio-station.inhs.illinois.edu/, which receives several hundred thousand hits each week. With the information, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources informs hunters of peak migration windows, sets hunting dates and zones, and evaluates management practices at state-managed waterfowl areas.
For more information, visit the Forbes Biological Station website. In the fall, posts are added to their weekly blog on Facebook.
Learn to hunt
Novice game hunters can learn the basics of hunting from the harvest to the dinner plate through the Illinois Learn to Hunt program. Free education and training workshops are offered, currently online, teaching adult participants how to hunt deer, turkey, pheasants, ducks, geese, squirrels, and other game.
Some of the upcoming 90-minute webinars include Deer Hunting 101 and 102, Deer Stand Placement Strategies, and a Deer Firearm and Muzzleloader Equipment Overview. Registration is required.
The website also contains equipment checklists plus resources for harvesting a variety of wild game and a free cookbook of 12 wild game recipes that include birds and broccoli and duck with arugula and spinach pesto.
Find Illinois Learn to Hunt on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch out for mosquitoes and ticks
While spending any time outdoors, mosquitoes and ticks that could harbor disease should be avoided. Scientists in the INHS Medical Entomology Program work with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to conduct statewide mosquito and tick surveillance, especially for species that are a medical concern.
Data from the survey are available on the Illinois Department of Public Health website through the interactive Illinois Tick Surveillance map. Individual maps show the locations where blacklegged ticks, lone star ticks, Gulf Coast ticks, and American dog ticks have been found to date, as well as the disease agents detected in these ticks (including the pathogen that causes Lyme Disease). The 30-minute webinar Ticks and Tick-Borne Disease Agents in Illinois provides a primer on tick bite prevention and offers instructions on how to use the maps.
Hunter attitudes and behaviors
Are you interested in other hunters’ experiences and their satisfaction with the current management of wildlife populations? Scientists in the INHS Human Dimensions Research Program conduct surveys on the social psychological aspects of conservation issues to better understand the complex nature of decisions that affect resource management.
Results of annual harvest surveys on upland game species, snow goose, and waterfowl , as well as fur-bearer trapping are published and found on the program’s website. The reports compile the results of questionnaires to determine hunters’ and trappers’ activities in the field, attitudes toward management activities, and support for proposed regulatory changes. In addition to the harvest studies, other surveys are conducted.
Research topics include hunters’ attitudes toward chronic wasting disease in deer, hunter recruitment and retention, and associations between socioeconomic status and hunting license sales in Cook County, Illinois.
The Human Dimensions Research Program website is at https://human-dimensions.inhs.illinois.edu/.
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