OutdoorIllinois July 2008
Conservation law is
a unique field of
and unless offi-cers
are versed in
the laws and regulations
regarding conservation issues,
they may not be aware of a
violation taking place.
Is the car parked along the
side of the road stalled, or
does it belong to someone
sneaking to a pond closed for
fishing? Are they taking an off-trail
hike, or scouting for deer in an area
where hunting is prohibited?
Law enforcement training conducted by
Department of Natural Resources Conser-vation
Police now provides 100 Cook
County Forest Preserve District law
enforcement officers the tools necessary to
crack down on conservation violations
within Illinois’ most populated county.
With more than 68,000 acres (approxi-mately
11 percent of the county total) and
300 miles of dedicated trails set aside to
serve the more than 5 million people resid-ing
in Cook County, officers have a tremen-dous
Recognizing the need for conservation
enforcement training among other agen-cies,
and especially with agencies that have
similar enforcement demands, such as the
CCFPD, DNR developed a program specifi-cally
for those field officers who are tasked
on a daily basis with the protection of nat-ural
resources on their properties.
Over the past 4 years, Cook County For-est
Preserve officers have attended a week-long
mini academy conducted by DNR
Conservation Police. According to CCFPD
Police Chief Richard Wasak, the agency
had been sending their officers out of state
to receive this unique training, until learn-ing
of the program being
offered by DNR. Just a cou-ple
of months ago, the
agency reached a landmark
as the only Illinois coun-ty/
city enforcement agency
to have 100 percent of its
officers trained in conserva-tion
The curriculum includes
training on snowmobile, all-terrain
vehicle and boating
enforcement, and a full day is
dedicated to understanding
laws related to operating an off-road vehicle
while under the influence of alcohol or
drugs. Additional sessions provide training
on the identification of fish and wildlife, and
enforcement of laws pertaining to Illinois’
During a half-day session, officers are split
into teams and given 30 minutes to approach
and handle each of five conservation viola-tion
scenarios that replicate activities they
may encounter while on patrol. Boating,
hunting, fishing, collecting protected
species, damaging the native landscape and
recreational park activities are a few of the
areas that are addressed during the scenarios.
The scenario training is the highlight of
the week’s training, with student officers
applying what they have learned and CPOs
passing along the hidden secrets of conser-vation
enforcement accumulated after years
of field experience. All the participants
leave the scenario training with a greater
appreciation of what it takes to protect the
natural resources as well as forming a closer
bond with their fellow officers.
Training wraps up Friday with a round-table
discussion and review of the scenar-ios,
followed by a written test to measure
what the officers have learned, and
retained, throughout the week.
One week of training each year has
become a win-win proposition for both
agencies—and the resources of Illinois.
Cook County FPD officers have additional
tools to do their jobs, and have developed a
greater understanding of their role in law
enforcement and how it relates to conserva-tion
law. As a result of their training, a signifi-cant
increase has occurred in the number
and quality of conservation citations written.
From DNR’s perspective, we value hav-ing
another agency, and 100 officers, in
Cook County acting as our eyes and ears as
we work closely together toward a common
goal of protecting natural properties and
resources in a highly urbanized area.
One-hundred Cook County Forest
Preserve officers have received training
on conservation law enforcement issues
from DNR Conservation Police.
VOLUME XVI, NUMBER 7
OUTDOOR ILLINOIS (USPS 0978-720) is published
monthly by the Department of Natural Resources,
Office of Public Services, One Natural Resources Way,
Springfield, IL 62702-1271, phone (217) 782-7454,
(Publication number: ISSN 1072-7175)
Periodical Postage Paid at Springfield, IL
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to OUTDOOR
ILLINOIS, Department of Natural Resources, Dept. NL,
One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-
Rod R. Blagojevich Governor
Sam Flood Acting Director
Leslie Sgro Deputy Director
Deborah C. Stone Deputy Director
STAFF: Kristin Vacek, office director; Kathy Andrews,
editor; Joe McFarland, staff writer; Adele Hodde, chief
photographer; Charles J. Copley, design & layout; Tim
W. Gosteli, graphics support; Kelly Frederick, produc-tion
coordinator; Minak Porter, circulation; Michelle
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Internet Address: www.dnr.state.il.us
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of the anticipated attendance. Handicapped persons
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should inform the Department of Natural
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telephoning or writing the Equal Employment Opportu-nity
Officer, Department of Natural Resources, One
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phone (217) 785-0067.
Department of Natural Resources information is
available to the hearing impaired by calling DNR’s
Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (217) 782-
The mission of the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources is to manage, protect and sustain Illinois’
natural and cultural resources; provide resource-com-patible
recreational opportunities; and promote natural
resource-related public safety, education, and science.
Printed by the authority of
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Illinois Department of
Printed on recycled and
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July 2008 OutdoorIllinois
On the cover
The slow-moving woodchuck rarely ventures
far from its underground dens when searching
for a meal of vegetation, berries, grubs and
insects. Photo by Adele Hodde.
How Are We Doing?
Your input is important to us. Please
take a moment and visit www.dnr.
state.il.us/OI to evaluate this issue of
OutdoorIllinois and provide suggestions
for future stories.
Where are we going
this month? 2 Ramsey Lake
Birdsong and crackling campfires are a far cry from the carnival-like
atmosphere that filled the air at the 1900-era Old Fox Chase Grounds.
6 The Drawing Party
At Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, the competition for waterfowl
blinds is so friendly hunters throw a party.
9 Preserving Natural Areas
The Natural Land Institute celebrates 50 years of preserving natural areas
through acquisition, conservation easements, advocacy and stewardship.
Do Fish Smell?
Everybody knows rotten fish smell. But do live fish use scent to locate
food? Here’s what fishermen want to know.
Basins of Fish
Knowledge of fish distribution and abundance is used to diagnose the
health of Illinois’ 33 major stream systems.
Invasive exotic plants are everybody’s problem. It’s why the Cooperative
Weed Management Areas were established.
A decline in woodchuck numbers is sending researchers afield to study
the habits of this herbivorous rodent.
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