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Escaped pheasants foul hunting season

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[DEC. 3, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- The snowstorm that hit Illinois on Nov. 24 damaged several pheasant flight pens at the Des Plaines Wildlife Propagation Center in Will County in northeastern Illinois and the James C. Helfrich Wildlife Propagation Center in Logan County in central Illinois. Damage occurred when snow accumulated on the top netting of the pens, exceeding the load capacity. The resulting damage allowed a substantial number of the captive-reared pheasants raised in the flight pens to escape.

"Many of the pheasants that escaped have been recaptured in the days since the snow, and more will be recovered in the next few days and weeks," said Terry L. Musser, program manager of hunting preserves, controlled hunting and field trials for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "Not all, however, will be recaptured."

The pheasants raised at these facilities are released on Department of Natural Resources hunting areas located throughout the state. The released captive-reared pheasants supplement wild pheasant populations and provide pheasant hunting opportunities on the department's hunting areas in southern Illinois where wild pheasants do not propagate.

Enough pheasants escaped at the Des Plaines and Helfrich facilities to require adjustments to the hunter numbers and pheasant release schedules at the hunting areas. The sites affected are:

  • Green River State Wildlife Area in Lee County
  • Johnson Sauk Trail State Park in Henry County
  • Des Plaines Conservation Area in Will County
  • Kankakee River State Park in Kankakee County
  • Iroquois County State Wildlife Area
  • Moraine View State Park in McLean County
  • Sand Ridge State Forest in Mason County
  • Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area in Cass County
  • Eldon Hazlet State Park in Clinton County
  • Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in Jefferson and Franklin counties

For the remainder of the hunting season, hunter numbers and pheasants released at each of these sites will be reduced slightly from the numbers projected for these sites earlier this season.

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Hunters with advance hunting reservations can be assured that their hunting permit will be honored on the appointed date, as long as they are checked in during the required time period. Adjustments, however, will be made to the number of standby hunters accommodated at these sites. Hunters should check with the site to ascertain the number of standby hunting opportunities available.

The department has temporarily closed its online reservation system for controlled pheasant hunting. The reservation system is located on the Internet at All other features and information on the website continue to be available. The online application feature is expected to be available again during the week of Dec. 6. The number of available reservations will be reduced from earlier in year.

Four other controlled pheasant hunting sites operated by a concessionaire are unaffected by this situation. Those sites are:

  • Chain O'Lakes State Park in Lake County
  • Silver Springs State Park in Kendall County
  • Ramsey Lake State Park in Fayette County
  • Horseshoe Lake State Park in Madison County

Information about controlled pheasant hunting at these four sites is available on the controlled pheasant hunting website,, or by contacting the concessionaire: T. Miller, Inc., P.O. Box 7002, Springfield, IL 62791-7002; phone (217) 793-6146.

For more details and information on controlled pheasant hunting opportunities in Illinois, check

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

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