Follow Your Nose To A Nearby Carp Cookout

Oct 16, 2020
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Illinoisans might notice something special in the air on Saturday. That would be the aroma from the statewide Asian Carp Cookout. Ted Penesis is the director of community outreach for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. His efforts were critical in organizing this inaugural event. 

"Many people have probably heard of Asian carp and mostly in a negative connotation since it's an invasive species," he said, "but what people don't know is that it's a very healthy and tasty fish."

Penesis listed off the health benefits.

Got Bugs? Build A Bat Box

Jul 2, 2020
Steve Taylor

Many firework displays are canceled this year, but if you want to see a natural spectacle that celebrates the environment, look up in the sky at night. You may see a cloud of bats swooping through the air eating mosquitoes.

A single bat can eat up to 3,000 insects a night. If you want to attract bats to your property, but don't want them in your house or garage, Joe Kath said to consider installing a bat box. It will help attract the flying mammals to your yard and they will naturally control the mosquito population.

Screen Grab from Video by Greg McMahon

Illinois is home to many animals, but bears aren't one of them. But there is one American black bear making its way through the state and it's probably a male.

Stefanie Fitzsimons is a district wildlife biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She said it's mating season for black bears and that males are the wanderers for any species.

"This time of year, the males get kicked out of their dens to go find their own mates and their own territories," she said. "We obviously don't have the mates for it so it is continuing its journey south."


This week, some employers are having difficulty reopening their businesses because many workers don't want to come back.  While there are health concerns, it also comes down to dollars and cents.  

Self-testing for COVID-19 could play a key role in fully reopening the economy.  But what are the concerns?  

Also, most rural hospitals have faced challenges preparing for the pandemic, even as they've seen fewer cases of the coronavirus disease. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

Our lineup:


State parks and most other sites managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will reopen to the public starting Friday, May 29th. 

At the beginning of May, IDNR opened certain state parks to the public, in what it called a phased reopening. These facilities needed to have certain amenities, specifically flushable toilets and handwashing facilities with sinks. Park staff monitored visitors at these sites, and IDNR Director Colleen Callahan said the results were encouraging.

Chase Cavanaugh

Coyotes dominated the conversation at a public meeting Tuesday in Rockford. Officials from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources discussed why coyotes are attracted to urban areas, and how to avoid attacks. Many residents expressed concern about the canines, but Conservation Policeman Nathan Murry said education is an important first step. 

Guy Stephens

"Black Hawk" gazes over the Rock River from high atop a bluff in Lowden State Park once more.  Restoration on the Lorado Taft statue (which he called "The Eternal Indian")  is complete.  Work remains on the surrounding plaza at its base. But the tarp and scaffolding covering and obscuring the statue the last several years is gone. 

Western Illinois University

Bobcat season is approaching in Illinois. There is disagreement over how expanded hunting will impact the species long term.

Illinois resumed bobcat hunting just a few years ago. Rachel Torbert is a spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. She says IDNR asks hunters to report animals they encounter.

"Surveys that we’re working with have been conducted since the early 1990s and they show a steady increase in bobcat population in Illinois," she said.

Guy Stephens

Work is finally set to begin on the restoration of an iconic Illinois statue.

Scaffolding has been erected around Lorado Taft’s statue. Known to many as “Black Hawk,” (Taft himself called it "The Eternal Indian") it overlooks the Rock River near Oregon. The crumbling concrete figure has been swaddled in black tarp the last few years to protect it from the elements. Soon, that will come off and restoration work will begin.  

"Deer" by Flickr user C Watts / (CC X 2.0)

After weeks of robust discussion and a parliamentary hold on the legislation, lawmakers are now moving forward with an effort to hopefully enhance the health of the deer population in Illinois by providing supplemental nutrition. 

"SLOW NO WAKE" by Flickr User Kevin Jarrett / (CC X 2.0)

A no-wake ordinance on the Rock River will be lifted in some northern Illinois counties today, according to sheriff's department officials.

The no-wake order was posted in several northern Illinois counties last week after the National Weather Service-issued flood warning.

That included Lee, Ogle and Winnebago counties. Ogle County lifted their no-wake ban early Monday morning. Lee County Sheriff John Simonton says the no-wake signs will be taken down by Monday afternoon.

Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

Asian Carp are an invasive group of fish that can compete with native wildlife for food and habitat. The Army Corps of Engineers maintains an electrical barrier to prevent the fish from entering Lake Michigan, but the problem spans all across Illinois. 

Asian Carp were first brought to the United States through aquaculture facilities, or fish farms, as a way to deal with algae in the tanks and make the resulting product tastier. The fish farms often are placed next to rivers for water sources.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

There’s not much left of the prairies and oak savannas that used to cover Illinois. Now the state has found a way to help environmental organizations protect those precious natural areas.


Illinois Department of Natural Resources

A visit to Olson Lake at Rock Cut State Park didn't change the outlook of Wayne Rosenthal, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, for reopening the lake to swimmers.

Rosenthal says his department has an $800 million maintenance backlog, and that a dredging machine which would solve the lake's silt problem requires $450,000 in repairs.

The DNR closed Olson Lake and beach in late March due to excessive silt buildup, which they claim caused a reduction in water quality. Rosenthal has promised to dredge the lake, but he has offered no timetable for the work.

"turkey" by Flickr User Paul / (CC X 2.0)

Turkey hunters will have access to private land in parts of Illinois this spring.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says property owners have opened their land to registered adult hunters in eight counties.

They include Christian, Clark, Macoupin, Sangamon and Schuyler counties.

Turkey hunters under age 18 may apply to hunt on private land in at least 35 counties.

Flickr User Peter Shelk/CC 2.0

Firearm deer hunting season begins next weekend in Illinois, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources is urging hunters to make safety a priority.  Spokesman Tim Schweizer says there were 25 hunting accidents last year, 15 of which involved tree stands.   

Courtesy Brian Mackey/All Rights Reserved

Illinois residents are being asked to vote on a constitutional amendment.  It would limit the use of money from license plate renewals, gas taxes, and other such fees specifically to transportation projects.  

The measure has bipartisan support, but could it threaten funding for state parks?  

Illinois DNR website

Bobcats have been considered a threatened species in Illinois since the 1970's, but not now.

Sen. John Sullivan, a Democrat from Rushville, explained it when legislators debated lifting the bobcat hunting ban.

"I used to never see a bobcat, now it's uncommon to go to the woods and not see bobcats. And not one or two, but three or four of five or six of 'em," Sullivan said.

The hunting and trapping season begins in November. For the rare hunter who gets a permit, that is.

Starved Rock State Park sees more than two-million visitors a year. It’s especially busy on holiday weekends.

Flood water reached its parking lots and is limiting the number of available spots, which means the park could quickly reach capacity this weekend and close to additional visitors.

Tim Schweizer, with the Department of Natural Resources, urges people visiting the park to arrive early.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Repairs are on hold to the 105-year-old Black Hawk statue that overlooks the Rock River in northern Illinois.


Sauk Valley Media reports that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is looking for a general contractor to replace Forest Park conservator Andrzej Dajnowski.

Dajnowski says he declined to sign the contract the IDNR sent him for this year because it stipulated repairs be done in a certain way.

Dajnowski says the department hired an engineer who wanted to remove more of the statue's surface than is necessary.