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*** UPDATED x1 *** This Is Illinois

Friday, May 16, 2014

*** UPDATE *** AP

The 16 flights cost a total of about $7,400. This is the first year of a three-year program that’s largely funded by federal dollars.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Scott Reeder

Our cash-strapped state government has found a new use for its fleet of aircraft – flying birds into Illinois.

I kid you not.

State aircraft are flying to Kansas and transporting prairie chickens back to the Land of Lincoln.

And at a time state lawmakers are looking at raising the state income tax, Illinois state employees have been hiking across Kansas trapping these chickens.

Talk about fowl fiscal deeds.

State pilots have flown between Illinois and Kansas not once, not twice but 14 times this year taking prairie chickens to downstate Jasper and Marion counties.

“Illinois is the Prairie State and prairie chickens are an endangered species here, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring them back,” said Scott Simpson, site manager for Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Newton, Ill.

The feds are chipping in $337,000 toward the program and the state will pay $117,000. Some of the cost to state government may be offset by private fundraising done by the Audubon Society, Simpson said.

* The AP has the state’s response

Illinois Department of Natural Resource spokesman Chris Young says the greater prairie chicken is a threatened species. He says the state started a program this spring to bring the chickens to the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area near Effingham to increase their dwindling population. Young says the Kansas chickens are needed to improve genetic diversity. The state has brought about 90 chickens to Illinois on multiple flights.

Young says hunting and fishing license fees along with private donations pay the rest.

* And we’re getting the birds from more states than just Kansas. From Minnesota Public Radio

In the past few years, several hundred Minnesota chickens have been captured and relocated to help rebuild populations in North Dakota, Illinois and Wisconsin. There’s even talk of moving Minnesota birds to Texas to help save a cousin, the Atwater Prairie Chicken.

Missouri is also getting threatened birds from Kansas, but they’re driving the birds, not flying them.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

65 Comments
  1. - the unknown poster - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    It looks like the chickens are coming home to roost.


  2. - the unknown poster - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    I can see the headline now……Illinois DNR playing chicken with taxpayer money.


  3. - Walker - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    Reeder’s scratching the dirt for anything to eat.


  4. - Walker - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    If we don’t have better ways to keep these aircraft in productive use, get rid of one or more of them.


  5. - Ken_in_Aurora - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    Birds gotta fly…


  6. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    I would drive the birds here for $80,000 USD saving the State money. I’ll even sing to them if it helps their transition. I will need to hire 1 other, send resume.

    Seriously I see the merits of this program but the cost is ridiculous. There are many reasons to help wildlife stability not just here but everywhere.


  7. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Time to invade and pillage Missouri and take their prairie chicken as our own.

    BTW, I believe projects like this are what you’re helping fund when you check the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund checkoff on your state income tax forms.


  8. - Responsa - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Yeah, driving would be better/cheaper than flying although probably much harder on the stressed prairie chickens they’re trying to safely relocate. There’s been a fair bit of favorable press about this program around the country. I support this effort and I believe this is exactly the type of restoration and environmental work that the state DNR is supposed to be doing –but too often veers away from while they move into other areas of activity and oversight much beyond what their title would suggest. “Waste” of taxpayer money is proportional and what that waste consists of is ultimately in the eye of the beholder/taxpayer as is clearly demonstrated by comments left on this blog nearly every day of the week :).


  9. - Darienite - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    ==Talk about fowl fiscal deeds.==
    Hopefully they didn’t leave any fowl fecal deeds.


  10. - DuPage - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    Federal plus state money is around $450K. For 90 birds. Round it up to 100 birds, that’s still $4500 per bird.


  11. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    Perhaps they should use Uber.


  12. - Norseman - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    === Federal plus state money is around $450K. For 90 birds. Round it up to 100 birds, that’s still $4500 per bird. ===

    That’s not chicken feed.


  13. - Ahoy! - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    Illinois will spend the time to figure out the most expensive and inefficient way doing something, this is Illinois.


  14. - lake county democrat - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Only if we can make the Greater Prairie Chicken the state bird.


  15. - SayWHAT? - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    We should be doing all we can to get our fiscal house in order, eliminate waste, cut spending, cut the bs, and start being responsible and honest with the taxpayers of Illiois. Instead, we are trying to bring the wildlife balance back to the way things used to be, spending thousands per prairie chicken. Irresponsible, considering these tough economic times.

    If those birds are smart, they will WALK back to Kansas and Missouri! They could always hitch a ride with the humans migrating to neighboring states. If we don’t fix this soon, we will find taxpaying citizens to be an extinct species in Illinois. We are well on our way.


  16. - ChicagoR - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    Something about this story reminds me of the old Far Side cartoon with the human couple sitting in their living room while a duck is about to walk in, and the wife says to her husband, “Here he comes, Earl. Be gentle but firm. We are absolutely, positively not driving him south again this winter.”


  17. - Kerfuffle - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Well since the Feds are helping pay for it, it isn’t like it’s taxpayer money.


  18. - Mason born - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    Say WHAT?

    Your missing something. IDNR is using fees from Hunting and Fishing licenses, stamps etc. to pay for this. That is what those fees are for the real shame is when Quinn and previously Blago swept those fees to use for other issues. Now complain all you want about spending (personally i think flying them is silly. Although there may be a legit reason) but as someone who pays those, completely voluntary, fees more like this please and no more sweeping.


  19. - wordslinger - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    If it’s for the Greater Prairie Chicken, I’m all for it.

    But I don’t want to spend a dime for the Lesser Prairie Chicken.


  20. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    Mmmmmmm chicken.


  21. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    And yet we argue that Illinois has a revenue problem, not a spending one.

    The state has numerous vans they could use for an exercise like this. Stressed out prairie chickens my ….

    There are various organizations like Pilots and Paws who could do this for FREE


  22. - Rob Roy - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    I love the line “Federal Funds” when its used. We all know were those funds come from, your other pocket. Crazy…just crazy!


  23. - Ghost - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    We recieved close to 3 times our investment in mathcing federal funds…. this was a good idea. Any time we can bring extra money into our eceonmy its a smart move. We kept people employed, bought fuel and supplies from local merchants etc etc.

    You spend your way out of recessions and unemployement problems.


  24. - Arizona Bob - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    So now if a species is endangered in one location, you can spend a fortune taking it from a location in which it is NOT endangered to take it somewhere wher it is?

    Hmmmm…Tigers are endangered. Think any of those IDNR hacks will be using state planes to fly to India soon?LOL


  25. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    Maybe we could fly in some Republicans to replenish the ranks.


  26. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    ===So now if a species is endangered in one location, you can spend a fortune taking it from a location in which it is NOT endangered to take it somewhere wher it is?===

    I hear the Quinn people are trying to use the state plane to fly Democratic voters from Cook County downstate.


  27. - Ex - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    There was just another death at a Chris Cline coal mine and this is what IDNR is doing instead of hiring new inspectors. Wow.


  28. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    Great minds Michelle.


  29. - Mason born - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    Just a reminder these are not State Tax dollars. These are dollars collected from Fees paid by hunters and fisherman. This spending is precisely why the fees are collected. Better the money spent here then swept and wasted on the latest pork project.


  30. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    47th, I’m envisioning the “great Republican round up” on the Western plains as they are herded, tranquilized and then transported to Illinois for release in what was once their natural habitat.

    Born free …


  31. - A guy... - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    Doesn’t anyone in that department own a flute and a pair of Nike’s?


  32. - anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    The reason they fly the birds in on a small plane into the Effingham County airport is to speed the transfer so as to reduce stress on the birds, which raises their mortality. Driving them back takes too long. Uncrating dead birds does little good.


  33. - Anon. - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    90 birds in 14 flights? Was it really necessary to give each one its own seat?


  34. - Sir Reel - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    Once upon a time the Department of Conservation (now DNR) had its own aircraft and pilots and routinely used them for wildlife surveys and work like this. To save money they were taken from DOC and now the Department has to reserve IDOT aircraft and probably pay more per mile/hour. If DNR still had its own aircraft this “story” would have likely never seen the light of day.


  35. - Earl Shumaker - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    Mason born: Thanks for your comments; I agree


  36. - SAP - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    Maybe we could add to the genetic diversity with some Dixie Chickens.

    //www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&sqi=2&ved=0CDgQtwIwAg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D3z-GwdaKrn8&ei=W0Z2U9_WEdidqAaqv4DgCg&usg=AFQjCNEvsYtFNScjq-fArJwmiIEUyUAihw&bvm=bv.66699033,d.b2k


  37. - Seebee - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Moooove over Colonel Sanders, Governor Pat Quinn is the the Prairie Chicken King!


  38. - Neglected stepchild - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    And people wonder, “how stupid are they?”
    Once again, the state lays an egg.
    And the taxpayers get the bird—as in middle digit.


  39. - Anon - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    Can anyone make a chicken-related pun about how it would have been illegal to spend this money on anything else?


  40. - Ghost - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    “And the taxpayers get the bird—as in middle digit”

    How so? the taxpayers recieved 500,000 into the States economy, and without using any tax dollars?

    basic economics, spending is good, bringing money into the State, such as fed funds is even better.

    So the taxpayers win if the State stops bringing in extra revenue from outside the State and spending it? Huh?


  41. - Anyone Remember - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    If the Quinn Administration is using “hunting and fishing fees” for purposes that are even tangentially related to “hunting and fishing” that’s an improvement.

    Filan illegally “swept” such fees and got caught by the Feds. (To Quinn’s credit, he repaid the funds.)
    http://www.interior.gov/oig/reports/upload/2006-E-0007.pdf


  42. - Mason born - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    –If the Quinn Administration is using “hunting and fishing fees” for purposes that are even tangentially related to “hunting and fishing” that’s an improvement.–

    Well Said!!


  43. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    Do people not understand that flying to Kansas is faster than driving to Kansas?


  44. - Demoralized - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    I view this as a metaphor for state government in general. They are giving us the bird.

    Friday humor . . .


  45. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    That’s an awful lot of money to spend on take out chicken.


  46. - Forrest Gump - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    The governor said that the prairie chickens are no longer being allowed to fly first class but are now being forced into flying coach. His heart told him “It shall be as he knows His people would decree”. And, this situation is just “temporary”.


  47. - Anon. - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    Why did the chicken cross the prairie?


  48. - dupage dan - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Michelle Flaherty is in fine feather today. Wattle she think of next? She sure raptor head around this subject.


  49. - Anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    ==We recieved close to 3 times our investment in mathcing federal funds…. this was a good idea. Any time we can bring extra money into our eceonmy its a smart move. We kept people employed, bought fuel and supplies from local merchants etc etc.

    You spend your way out of recessions and unemployement problems.==

    Most chickens in this country are able to be safely transported when sold via US Mail. Mailing them would not only be exponentially cheaper for the State and Feds, it would also support the struggling US Postal Service.

    And we shouldn’t complain because license fees pay for this? Really? Wasted spending like this could either be used elsewhere in much more needed areas of Wildlife, or, if everything else is paid for, taken out and allowing for lower fees!


  50. - Anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    ==Why did the chicken cross the prairie?==

    To collect its government check?


  51. - Dirty Red - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    = The 16 flights cost a total of about $7,400. This is the first year of a three-year program that’s largely funded by federal dollars. =

    And here I was worried for a second Reeder might actually be onto something.


  52. - Emily Booth - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    We send trumpeter swans to Iowa. I would rather see my tax dollars supporting nature and wildlife. Stewardship of the planet and all that.


  53. - Anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    === The 16 flights cost a total of about $7,400. This is the first year of a three-year program that’s largely funded by federal dollars. ==

    We’re to believe that 16 flights, with associated fees, fuel, payroll, and maintenance, to and back from Illinois-Kansas only costs roughly $460….sorry, that’s sounds suspiciously low and someone tweaking the books for damage control. Unless it’s Kansas, Illinois and not the State.


  54. - Mason born - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    - Anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 3:10 pm:-

    Dear Sir or Madam;

    There is a long lost skill none as Reading Comprehension. I suggest you attempt to practice it. Yes Chickens such as Rhode Island Reds etc., i.e. domestic chickens, can be sent u.s. Mail as chicks. These however, follow along, are Prairie Chickens also known as WILDLIFE a type of grouse. These are not Prairie Chicken chicks but adult wild Prairie Chickens.

    Now License fees are to go for the support of wildlife and wildlife habitat. You see the Prairie Chicken being WILDLIFE meets this description. Furthermore as a hunter who likes chasing birds over the back of my German Shorthair the idea of establishing a population of new game birds to be hunted in the future certainly applies with the stated objective.

    Just so you know Praire Chickens are hunted in Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, etc.

    Please attempt to Intelligently comment on the subject at hand?

    Mason

    Rich,

    A competitor for Dumbest comment of the week?


  55. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    But for this post, I would not have known that Scott Reeder had been honored by the Fund for American Studies, which has been “Teaching Freedom since 1967″ and recently honored Fox News’ John Stossel for his lifetime achievements at the 21st Annual Bob Novak dinner.

    Congrats to Mr. Stossel and Mr. Reeder.


  56. - Dr. Johnny Fever - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    Call me if they threw the prairie chickens out of the plane.

    Otherwise, not so newsworthy.


  57. - sal-says - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    == The 16 flights cost a total of about $7,400. This is the first year of a three-year program that’s largely funded by federal dollars. ==

    Is this another one of those funny IDOT flight cost numbers? Less than $500 a flight?


  58. - Mason born - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:25 pm:

    As for the 7400 I am assuming that does not include the pilots (IDOT had to pay them anyway) the Plane Maintenance (Idot had to do it anyway) and just the Fuel suddenly it seems more reasonable.

    Besides better Healthy Prairie Chickens then a Lame Duck. (i know he will probably win but couldn’t resist)


  59. - Anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:43 pm:

    ==Now License fees are to go for the support of wildlife and wildlife habitat. You see the Prairie Chicken being WILDLIFE meets this description. ==

    Dear Mason born,

    My comprehension is just fine, but I appreciate your concern. Paying that much money for a few dozen birds, is dopey. We’re essentially sending a limo to pick up groceries when a cheaper method could easily be used and savings used for other WILDLIFE needs in the State.


  60. - Anon - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 4:55 pm:

    anonymous 4:43pm - if restoring a nearly-extirpated species isn’t a valid use of wildlife funds, what is? would you prefer they go extinct so that your stinginess is not offended?


  61. - Mason born - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 5:04 pm:

    Anonymous

    You do realize breeding stock is more effective when it is alive?? As for the plane I said in my first post it seems wasteful but there may be legit reasons. Now if you think that the post office that can’t get plan sheets from Springfield to Kansas city in 72 hrs when you pay for next day is going to get most of the prairie chickens here alive good luco.

    If you understood these were wildlife and not domestic chickens and still said that. Then logic seems to escape you.

    As for spending my wildlife fees. It seems to me relying on the IDNR biologists to get the wildlife here makes sence.


  62. - steve schnorf - Saturday, May 17, 14 @ 7:00 pm:

    As God is my witness, I thought Prairie Chickens could fly


  63. - Flatlander - Saturday, May 17, 14 @ 11:38 pm:

    Whatever these birds cost, the return on investment is tremendous. Great project.

    In the US, the birding industry generates in excess of $107 Billion, supports 666,000 jobs and provides over $6 Billion in state tax revenue and $7 Billion in Fed Tax revenue.

    Illinois (with almost 2 million birders) is one of the top 10 active birding states (by days birding) and 10% of the bird watchers (200,000) bring their wallets with their binoculars from outside the state.

    Birders flock (sorry) to Jasper County (IL) to see these (and other) birds creating substantial lodging, eating & transportation revenue. Not much other reason to spend time near Effingham, IL.

    Similar birding attractions (UMR Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, Horicon Marsh, etc.) return from $12 to $45 for every $1 appropriated. Fact. And Illinois is getting the full $1 of appropriation for only 33 cents (the rest is matching & private money). A great deal.

    Get those First Class - flying Chickens over here for a look see. The economic impact is considerably more than chicken feed. And the cost is bupkis.

    (Source = 2011 Birding in the US: A Demographic and Economic Analysis). Google it.


  64. - Anonymous - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:04 pm:

    Fire Director Miller.


  65. - Retired IDNR - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:07 pm:

    Director Marc Miller has NO idea how to manage the IDNR. What a waste of LIMITED fish and wildlife dollars.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Tigers-Sox opener postponed, nightcap on


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