ILLINOIS (WAND) - Illinois officials are canceling hunting and fishing on state-managed or state-owned sites while they're closed during the pandemic.
Depending on the location, Central Illinoisans still have the option to visit: city, county, federal and privately owned parks. Sergeant Stuart Fraser, a member of the Illinois conversation police, suggested limited the amount of traveling.
'It's not necessarily essential travel, but if you want to travel to go hunting or fishing, you can do that," Fraser said. "But you can't go to these sites that are closed."
The decision to close parks was "extremely difficult", the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said in a press release, but "was the right one" as officials saw large crowds showing up at state-owned parks across the U.S. All state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites owned by Illinois were closed March 15.
As a result, all upcoming scheduling events, including but not limited to hunting and fishing on state-owned or state-managed sites, have been canceled. In a Tuesday announcement, the DNR said this change will be in effect while the state sites are closed.
DNR officials noted they can't give out refunds or transfer permits under current administrative rules. They said "all possible solutions" to the problems this situation creates for sportsmen and women are under review.
"However, hunters and anglers who wish to hunt or fish during the 'Stay at Home' order may do so provided they have the appropriate licensing and permits and are hunting or fishing on private property or at sites which are currently open to the public," the DNR release said. "We ask our hunters and anglers to help their fellow outdoorsmen and women by following all public health directives, including staying at least six feet away from other sportsmen and staying home if they're exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19."
Sergeant Fraser expressed to WAND News, he'd rather see officials say they did too much than not enough; once the virus is gone.
"How much is enough?" Fraser asked. "Hopefully, we're doing enough to save lives."
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