Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

May 17, 2014

State imports prairie chickens to Jasper County

NEWTON — An Illinois wildlife agency defended its $520,000 program Friday to import prairie chickens from Kansas to the state by plane, a day after an Illinois House Republican blasted the project during a contentious budget debate.

An Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman told The Associated Press that biologists took 16 flights during March and April to transport 91 birds to a habitat preserve near Effingham. The reserve is located five miles southwest of Newton. The flights cost a total of about $7,400 this spring, the first year of a three-year program largely funded by federal grants.

IDNR spokesman Chris Young said the greater prairie chicken is a state endangered species, with a dwindling population of 70 birds before the program launched.

“It’s sort of a signature bird of the tall grass prairie,” Young said, adding that the birds inflate bright orange sacs and make a sound similar to blowing air across the top of an open pop bottle. “It’s that sort of sound that you hear on a spring morning in prairies, which is something that most people have never heard because the birds are so rare now.”

Republican state Rep. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth called the program “bizarre” and questioned its cost during a heated 10-hour House budget debate on Thursday, where House Democrats passed a $37.3 billion budget that relies on making a temporary income tax increase permanent.

“Using Air Illinois to fly prairie chickens from Kansas...it’s too bizarre to make it up,” Mitchell said.

According to the IDNR website, the project used $337,500 in federal wildlife grants and $181,730 in state funds and private donations. The state money comes from hunting and fishing license fees. The grants can only be used for conservation-related projects, not general budget items such as education or services.

Young said the agency used two-engine state planes rather than trucks to transport the birds because it’s less stressful for the animals and has less employee costs.

He said the number of birds per flight depends on how many biologists can catch during each trip to Kansas, which has a healthier prairie chicken population.

The program calls for the state to bring in a total of 300 birds in three years.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • McCarter.jpg Some lawmakers donate pay

    Illinois lawmakers restoring their pay after years of furlough days has prompted some state representatives to give back to their communities — a move some local lawmakers call a political one.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Distance learning catching on in area

    In what appears to be a growing trend among rural school districts, a third area school district may join an existing academic cooperative.

    July 27, 2014

  • Joshua Robison.jpg Opinion: God doesn't care about party affiliation

    Reflecting on what we politely refer to in this country as “political discourse,” I am often struck by how convinced many people seem to be that their sides' specific policies and personalities are the only way to save us all from utter ruin.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ron W.jpg Opinion: Column break just that -- a break

    ‘Hey, Ron. You didn’t have a column this week. What’s the deal? It’s the reason I buy a paper on Thursdays.”

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Isom.jpg Opinion: It's about time

    Finally, someone else speaks up and it’s about time.
    I applaud Ron Worman and welcome him to take a seat on my bandwagon. His addressing the proliferation of signs of every description, virtually everywhere one looks, is a welcome additional voice — even though rare.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Feds: Effingham County was meeting place for underage sex tryst

    An Ohio man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he traveled out of state to meet an underage person in Effingham County for sexual activity.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jail inmate attempts suicide

    An unscheduled cell check is credited for saving the life of an Effingham County Jail inmate who tried to hang himself early Thursday morning.

    July 25, 2014

  • Woman injured in Farina collision

    An accident on Washington Street sent one driver to the hospital Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Driver crashes after being forced off road

    A driver crashed after being run off the road by a semi on Interstate 70.

    July 25, 2014

  • Rollover on I-70 sends one to hospital

    An accident on Interstate-70 sent one traveler to the hospital.

    July 25, 2014

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.