Contrary to what many outdoorsmen believe, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources staff members do listen to what the constituents have to say. They just tend to ignore what they hear.
At least that's the impression a decision impacting future waterfowl seasons suggests.
The DNR proposed an administrative rule change that would ban the use of any metal, carpet, felt paper, plastic snow fence or mesh material in the construction of a duck blind that sits on state property or in a waterway where it falls under state jurisdiction.
After strong objection from hunters in Region IV, which includes Mississippi River Pools 21, 22 and 24, the DNR altered the administrative rules. Effective after the 2019 blind drawings, hunters will have two options for constructing blinds. The first option allows for blinds to be built without material restrictions, but they must be removed within 10 days of the completion of the waterfowl season.
The second option is to construct a permanent blind that is subject to material restrictions, which have been adjusted to allow anchoring hardware such as chains or cables.
Some might consider that a victory for those opposed to the rules changes. When you consider how much opposition there was to the changes, it's not a victory at all.
In information released by the DNR, it received 382 comments following the first notice of the proposal. There were 380 comments in opposition to the changes, one in support of banning metal and other materials and one person whose position was unclear.
The lone positive comment came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which favored the change because it would "reduce debris in waterways and positively impact lands managed cooperatively with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
That makes sense. Keeping the waterways clean is the objective of every conservationist, and hunters do their part to maintain wetlands and hunting areas with great care.
So no one is going to haphazardly let dangerous materials float freely away from their blind and into the Mississippi River. And hunters will support changes made for the sake of bettering the environment.
That's as long as their opinion matters. In the case, the opinions were noted and dismissed.
How else can the DNR explain implementing a rule 99.5 percent of hunters saw reason to object?
Hunters and outdoorsmen fund the projects the DNR endorses through the purchasing of licenses and waterfowl stamps. Their say should matter.
Hopefully next time it does.