Animal stories from Illinois can sometimes surprise you and even anger you, if you're like me.
In a pig's eye
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources wants hunters to be on the lookout for wild pigs. Yes, feral swine have found their way into the state. They are mainly concentrated in southeastern Illinois. But, a pocket of the porkers are roaming in Fulton and Knox counties, and scattered sightings have been made throughout the state, according to IDNR spokesman Stacey Solano.
IDNR officials said the pigs are an invasive species that compete with native wildlife for food resources. They damage soil by rooting and feeding and that increases soil erosion and damages crops, other plants and water quality. Feral swine also are known to carry at least 30 diseases that pose serious implications for people, pets, wildlife and livestock.
Report sightings to the IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources at 217-785-2511. Hunters with a valid FOID card can shoot the wild hogs with the permission of the landowner.
IDNR conservation police are still looking for information to help catch whoever shot a bald eagle on the Illinois river about one mile south of Hennepin on Oct. 30.
Conservation police were able to capture the bird after they received a report of a wounded eagle. The eagle had a broken wing as a result of a gunshot. It was taken to a Streator vet for treatment and will eventually be transferred to a licensed rehabilitation facility, authorities said.
Bald eagles are protected by federal law, with violators facing up to one year in prison and fines up to $100,000. Conservation police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them by the Illinois Target Poacher Hotline at 877-236-7529 or the Bureau-Putnam County Crime Stoppers at 815-925-7412. There's a 1,000 reward. Callers may remain anonymous.
IDNR has cleared two major poaching cases involving large bucks valued from $25,000 to $35,000.
In the first case, charges were filed in Cook and Sangamon counties against five men from Illinois and Michigan after a five-month probe.
The largest buck, taken in Cook County, was a non-typical deer scoring 213 5/8 inches and valued at $25,000.
The five face a total of 42 violations. They are Louis C. Bergsma, 35, Galena; Jonathan P. Bergsma, 33, Ada, Mich.; Douglas J. Bergsma, 60, Rockford, Mich.; Daniel E. Bergsma, 27, Ada, Mich.; and Tom E. Hedke, 33, Caledonia, Mich.
In a separate case, charges have been filed against three men after a nearly year-long probe that included the illegal taking of a potential state record deer valued at $35,000, police said.
The investigation focused on the unlawful harvest of a 36-point non-typical deer in Grundy County on Nov. 1, 2009. The animal scored 261 5/8. The probe then broadened to include poaching of 24 deer in Illinois and Canada during the past decade, Solano said.
The arrested were Christopher Kiernan, age 45, Minooka; Garret Armstrong, 31, Avon, N.Y., and Larry Smith, 49, Williamsburg, Ontario. The most serious charges are class A misdemeanors carrying punishment up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine for each count.