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Illinois

Hunting

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations

Waterfowl Hunting Zone Descriptions

North Duck Zone: That portion of the state north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Peotone-Beecher Road to Illinois Route 50, south along

Duck Zones

Illinois Route 50 to Wilmington-Peotone Road, west along Wilmington-Peotone Road to Illinois Route 53, north along Illinois Route 53 to New River Road, northwest along New River Road to Interstate Highway 55, south along I-55 to Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road, west along Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road to Illinois Route 47, north along Illinois Route 47 to I-80, west along I-80 to I-39, south along I-39 to Illinois Route 18, west along Illinois Route 18 to Illinois Route 29, south along Illinois Route 29 to Illinois Route 17, west along Illinois Route 17 to the Mississippi River, and due south across the Mississippi River to the Iowa border.

Central Duck Zone: That portion of the state south of the North Duck Zone line to a line extending west from the Indiana border along I-70
to Illinois Route 4, south along Illinois Route 4 to Illinois Route 161, west along Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route 158, south and west along Illinois Route 158 to Illinois Route 159, south along Illinois Route 159 to Illinois Route 3, south along Illinois Route 3 to St. Leo’s Road, south along St. Leo’s road to Modoc Road, west along Modoc Road to Modoc Ferry Road, southwest along Modoc Ferry Road to Levee Road, southeast along Levee Road to County Route 12 (Modoc Ferry entrance Road), south along County Route 12 to the Modoc Ferry route and southwest on the Modoc Ferry route across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.

South Duck Zone: That portion of the state south and east of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Interstate 70, south along U.S. Highway 45, to Illinois Route 13, west along Illinois Route 13 to Greenbriar Road, north on Greenbriar Road to Sycamore Road, west
on Sycamore Road to N. Reed Station Road, south on N. Reed Station Road to Illinois Route 13, west along Illinois Route 13 to Illinois Route 127, south along Illinois Route 127 to State Forest Road (1025 N), west along State Forest Road to Illinois Route 3, north along Illinois Route 3 to the south bank of the Big Muddy River, west along the south bank of the Big Muddy River to the Mississippi River, west across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.

South Central Duck Zone: The remainder of the state between the south border of the Central Zone and the North border of the South Zone.

Goose Zones

North Goose Zone: That portion of the state north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Interstate 80 to I-39, south along I-39 to Illinois Route

Duck Hunting Zones

18, west along Illinois Route 18 to Illinois Route 29, south along Illinois Route 29 to Illinois Route 17, west along Illinois Route 17 to the Mississippi River, and due south across the Mississippi River to the Iowa border.

Central Goose Zone: That portion of the state south of the North Goose Zone line to a line extending west from the Indiana border along I-70
to Illinois Route 4, south along Illinois Route 4 to Illinois Route 161, west along Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route 158, south and west along Illinois Route 158 to Illinois Route 159, south along Illinois Route 159 to Illinois Route 3, south along Illinois Route 3 to St. Leo’s Road, south along St. Leo’s road to Modoc Road, west along Modoc Road to Modoc Ferry Road, southwest along Modoc Ferry Road to Levee Road, southeast along Levee Road to County Route 12 (Modoc Ferry entrance Road), south along County Route 12 to the Modoc Ferry route and southwest on the Modoc Ferry route across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.

South Goose Zone: Same zones as for ducks. South-central Goose Zone: Same zones as for ducks.

Hunting Credential Requirements

To hunt migratory waterfowl, residents and non-residents will need: a hunting license, State Waterfowl Stamp, Federal Waterfowl Stamp and HIP Certification. Exemptions to these requirements are specified in table. For residency qualification, see Resident definition in Statewide Regulations hereafter.
• See waterfowl hunting maps for associated zones.

Federal Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp

Each year waterfowl hunters purchase Migratory Waterfowl Stamps, or “duck stamps” as a requirement to hunt migratory waterfowl. Authorization for a federal duck stamp came in 1934 from passage of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which was largely driven by waterfowl hunters’ concern over habitat loss and declining waterfowl populations. Funds from the purchase of these stamps are directed towards the purchase or lease of lands for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System, providing critical breeding, migration and wintering habitat for waterfowl and a variety of other species, and recreation opportunity in many areas. With an initial cost of $1 and current cost of $25, Federal Duck Stamp funds to date have totaled over $800 million to protect more than 5.7 million acres of wildlife habitat nationwide.

State Migratory Waterfowl Stamp

Similar to the federal duck stamp, Illinois hunters initiated the Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Fund, which was established in 1975. The stamps originally cost $5, increasing to $15 in 2011. Over the life of the fund, stamp purchases have led to over $24 million deposited in this fund, with current average sales of about 60,000 stamps annually, leading to nearly $1 million annual revenue. Physical paper Illinois stamps affixed to hunters’ licenses were discontinued in 2011 and now only appear as a line item on printed licenses. Half of the funds generated annually are used within Illinois to manage, maintain and acquire waterfowl and wetland habitat and hunting areas. The remaining funds are used to conserve critical grassland and wetland habitat on the Canadian breeding grounds, where many of the ducks that visit Illinois and the Mississippi Flyway originate.

HIP Registration

Free registration with HIP (National Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program) is required by law every year to hunt migratory game birds. Any licensed hunter who plans to hunt any species of migratory game bird must register with HIP before hunting. Get your HIP certification when purchasing your hunting or sportsman license or register for HIP by calling 1-866-716-6550 (record the transaction number on your license). Lifetime license holders also need to register with HIP on an annual basis. HIP is a nationwide program and you must register separately in every state where you hunt waterfowl, coots, doves, rails, snipe, woodcock and other migratory game birds except American crow. www.fws.gov/birds/ surveys-and-data/harvest-surveys/harvest-information-program.php. Cooperation and support from hunters make sound resource management possible.

Waterfowl Bands

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Laboratory maintains a website for reporting all migratory bird bands, including waterfowl.
If you harvest a banded bird, please visit www.reportband.gov and provide information about when and where you shot the bird. The 1-800 call-in number is no longer available for reporting bird bands. The phone number will direct you to the www.reportband.gov website. All federal bird bands, even those without a web address printed on them, can be reported online. Old bands with numbers worn off may still be reported by emailing: bandreports@usgs.gov for instructions. The band may need to be sent in, but the process does not destroy the band, and
it will be returned to you. Band reporters will be emailed a Certificate of Appreciation with information about when and where the bird was banded. Your cooperation on reporting band numbers gives waterfowl biologists a wealth of information useful in managing the resource to provide hunters with maximum recreational opportunities while protecting waterfowl populations.

Migratory Waterfowl Regulations

The following state and/or federal rules apply to the taking, possessing, shipping, transporting and storing of migratory birds. This material is only a summary and hunters also should consult Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20 http://www.ecfr.gov, and Chapter 520 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, or speak with a Conservation Police Officer.

Prohibited Devices and Methods

You cannot legally:

  • use a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance to harvest waterfowl.
  • hunt by driving, rallying or chasing waterfowl with any motorized conveyance or any sailboat to put them in the range of the hunters.
  • hunt with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells, UNLESS it is plugged with a one-piece filler which limits total shell capacity to three and which is incapable of removal without disassembling the gun. This does not apply during Light Goose Conservation Order seasons (snow/blue and Ross’ geese) that occur after Canada goose season has closed.

Non-toxic Shot Requirements for Waterfowl, Snipe and Rail

You cannot legally:

have in possession while attempting to harvest waterfowl (including coots and captive-reared mallards), snipe or rail any shotgun shells not approved as non-toxic by federal regulations. Most commercially available shot shells from major manufactures are approved non-toxic options. A list of non-toxic shot currently approved by the USFWS can be found at: www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/hunting/nontoxic.php

Blinds

You cannot legally:

  • Hunt from a floating blind that is not anchored except a scull boat may be used on certain public waters and waterfowl may be harvested from a boat not mechanically powered (see Hunting From Vehicles and Boats in Statewide Regulations) and not camouflaged or disguised.
  • Hunt waterfowl from a moving watercraft propelled by mechanical power or sails.
  • Hunt from a sink box (a low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water).

Attractants

You cannot legally:

  • hunt waterfowl with the use or aid of live decoys. All live, tame
    or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting and confined within an enclosure whichsubstantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such tame birds from the sight of migratory waterfowl.
  • use a recording or electronic calling device to hunt migratory waterfowl. Such electronic calling devices may be used to hunt snow, blue and Ross’ geese during Light Goose Conservation Order seasons that occur after Canada goose seasons close.

Retrieval of Downed Birds (Wanton Waste)

You cannot legally:

  • fail to retrieve, if possible, and retain in the custody of the hunter in the field, all waterfowl killed or crippled. Note: You need permission to enter private property.
  • have or carry an uncased or loaded shotgun in a motorized boat. Waterfowl hunters may have an uncased and unloaded gun in their boats for pursuing crippled waterfowl incapable of normal flight to reduce said bird to possession, provided that the attempt is made immediately upon downing the bird and is done within 400 yards of the blind from which the bird was downed. The gun cannot be loaded unless the motor has been completely shut off and crippled birds may not be shot from the boat until the motor has been completely shut off and the boat’s progress has ceased.
  • wantonly waste or destroy the useable meat (defined as the breast meat of a migratory game bird) of any game bird or migratory game bird that has a bag limit, and to leave, dump or abandon a wildlife carcass or its parts along or upon a public right-of-way or highway or on public or private property, including a waterway or stream without permission.

Possession and Tagging

You cannot legally:

  • possess more than one daily limit while in the field or while returning from the field to one’s car, hunting camp, home, etc.
  • completely field dress any migratory waterfowl and then transport the birds from the field. The head or one fully-feathered wing must remain attached to all such birds while being transported from the field to one’s home or to a commercial preservation facility.
  • give, put or leave any waterfowl at any place other than his/her personal abode, or in the custody of another person, unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the hunter’s signature and address, the total number of birds involved, by species, and the dates such birds were killed.
  • receive or have in custody any waterfowl belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged. Tags available at: www2. illinois.gov/dnr/hunting/waterfowl/Documents/WaterfowlGiftTags.pdf
  • receive, possess or give to another any freshly-killed waterfowl as a gift, except at the personal abode of the donor or donee, unless such birds have a tag attached (see tagging requirements above).
  • consider termination of bird possession by the hunter, until the hunter delivers the birds to another person as a gift or to a post office, common carrier or migratory bird preservation facility and consigned for transport by the Postal Service or a common carrier to some person other than the hunter.

Exporting and Importing

You cannot legally:

  • ship migratory waterfowl unless the package is marked on the outside with the name and address of the person sending the birds, the name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent and the number of birds, by species, contained in the package.
  • import migratory waterfowl killed in any foreign country, except Canada, unless such birds are dressed (except one fully-feathered wing must remain attached to all migratory waterfowl being transport- ed between a port of entry and one’s home or to a migratory bird preservation facility), drawn and the head and feet are removed. For information regarding the importation of migratory waterfowl killed in another country, consult 50 CFR 20.61 through 20.66.
  • import migratory waterfowl belonging to another person.

Federal Baiting Regulations

You cannot legally:

take migratory game birds by the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited (see www.fws.gov/le/waterfowl-hunting- and-baiting.html). An area is considered as baited during the presence of and for 10 consecutive days following the removal of the bait. However, nothing prohibits:

the taking of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl and coots, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas

(i) Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics); standing, flooded or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;

(ii) From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation;

(iii) From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or

(iv) Standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys or retrieving birds.

Hunters MAY:

  • hunt ALL legal migratory game birds, including waterfowl and coots.
  • hunt ALL legal migratory game birds over standing crops, standing flooded crops and flooded harvested croplands.
  • use natural vegetation to conceal a blind.
  • hunt over natural vegetation that has been mowed or manipulated in other ways. There is no restriction on when manipulation may occur. In other words, the manipulation may occur before, during or after any season where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of “normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice.”
  • hunt over surface-mined lands being reclaimed where seeds or grains are scattered solely as a result of a “normal soil stabilization practice.”
  • use vegetation from agricultural crops to conceal a blind provided that the crop seed is not exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered in the process. For example, corn stalks may be used to camouflage a blind as long as the attached ears remain tightly in the husk.
  • continue hunting over standing or flooded standing agricultural crops if they inadvertently scatter grain solely as a result of entering or leaving the field, placing decoys or retrieving downed birds.
  • be charged with hunting over bait or a baited area if they “know or reasonably should know” that the area is baited.
  • be fined up to $15,000 and spend 6 months in jail if convicted of hunting over bait or a baited area.
  • be fined up to $100,000 as an individual or $200,000 as an organization and spend 1 year in prison if convicted of placing or directing the placement of bait.

With respect to federal prohibitions, hunters MAY NOT:

  • place, expose, deposit, distribute, or scatter salt, grain or other feed that could lure or attract migratory game birds, except crows, to, on or over an area where hunters are attempting to harvest them.
  • hunt migratory game birds, except crows, with the aid of bait or on or over any baited area.
  • hunt over any baited area until all salt, grain or other feed has been completely removed for at least 10 days.
  • hunt waterfowl and coots over manipulated planted millet. Planted millet is not considered natural vegetation unless it becomes naturalized and grows (volunteers) on its own in subsequent years.
  • hunt waterfowl and coots over seed or grain from manipulated agricultural crops or nor-mal agricultural operations except where seed or grain is present solely as a result of “normal planting, harvesting
  • or post-harvest manipulation” or “normal agricultural soil stabilization practices.”
  • hunt migratory game birds, other than crows, if the use of vegetation from agricultural crops to conceal a blind exposes, deposits, distributes or scatters grain or other crop seed.

Don’t Shoot a Swan!

Don’t make a mistake! All wild swans are protected in Illinois.

Trumpet Swan and Snow Goose

Trumpeter Swans have made a substantial comeback throughout the Midwest region. These native swans are migrating through and wintering in Illinois. You can help bring back this magnificent swan by:

  • Learning the difference between swans and snow geese.
  • Reporting observations of swans having wing tags, neck collars or leg bands
  • Protecting wetland habitat.
  • Reporting any harassment of trumpeter swans.

Report Swan Sightings to:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Waterfowl Program 700 South 10th Street, Havana, IL 62644 (309) 543-3065